Criminal Obedience Essay

On a general perspective, there are numerous kinds and examples of criminal behavior. These are activities that can be considered punishable by the law. However, there are various activities that bring about the controversy, when they are regarded to as crimes because they do not seem to be actual crimes. Criminal obedience is one of such crimes. It is a crime that may not seem to be punishable to some people. However, according to the law, it is punishable. This forms the basis of the essay. It deals with how criminal obedience can be viewed in order to shed light on its criminal nature.

A crime can be described as a behavior that has a prescribed penalty

In the commission of the crime, a person may be operating under the instructions of another party. Therefore, they may not be the people with the major intention to commit a crime. However, this obedience can also be a crime. The local laws of any place clearly show and describe how the rights of another individual can be violated. Therefore, any obedience that leads to the violation of such rights can be regarded to as a crime. This is the literature behind criminal obedience. However, this violation of rights has to be proven by the local laws of a place in order for a conclusion to be made on the criminal nature of the obedience. A perfect example is that of soldiers or that of little children following orders from superior figures.

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As mentioned above, criminal obedience solely depends on the location of the parties that are in question. This can first be explained with a solid example of events that occurred in history. Adolf Hitler is considered as one of the most evil leaders in history because he was involved with the mass killings of people. In the Holocaust, there were thousands of Jews who lost their lives, as a result of Hitler's actions. However, he was not the person who committed the actual crimes. He had soldiers that he sent out into the field, to carry out his orders. These are soldiers that had sworn their allegiance and loyalty to him. Therefore, it is correct to conclude that they had no option other than to execute the orders. According to their laws, these soldiers were not committing any crimes because their laws required them to follow the orders of Adolf Hitler (Lapham, 2006). However, these activities came to an end and it was pay time for the people who had been involved in these mass killings. According to the international laws, all these soldiers that executed the orders laid on them by Hitler were considered guilty. They had to face different penalties.

It might seem that the literature behind criminal obedience is not realistic because the victims of these laws may seem to be innocent to some people. However, the law is created by man. Therefore, it can have mistakes and shortcomings. Despite this, it depends on the perspective with which this issue is viewed. When a leader issues orders to commit serious crimes against humanity, many people die because of these orders. In some cases, this involves thousands of people. When the hand of justice reaches such issues, it is extremely unfair that only one person bear responsibility for this. This is especially unfair to the victims of the orders that were given. There have to be numerous people who should be responsible for these crimes. This is the only way that justice can be delivered to the victims. Otherwise, only one person could be paying for the deaths of thousands of people, yet he has no power to commit all these crimes by himself (Simmons, 1863). Criminal obedience is something that requires everyone to understand the law perfectly. This includes both local and international laws. This can be instrumental in ensuring that they understand when they are violating the rights of other people, under orders.

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It is a fact that there is a flaw in criminal obedience laws. Every nation has its own criminal justice system. This means that there is no general criminal justice system in the world. What may be viewed as a serious crime in one nation may not be viewed as a crime in another nation. For this reason, there is a general collision of laws. Therefore, a problem always occurs when international courts get into the local matters of a nation because they handle matters in an extremely different manner from that which would have been used by the local courts. Therefore, it might be unfair to some of the people who are incriminated. There are people that are at the risk of losing their lives, if they do not follow the orders that are laid on them. These are people that have no option but to commit the crimes they have been ordered to. According to the law, these are people whose rights have completely been violated. They have an obligation to respect and obey the law, as well as their superiors. Both of these are obligations that have serious repercussions, if not followed.

Despite the above descriptions, there are considerations that can be made by a judge in the issuing of verdicts on people who have committed criminal obedience. First, there is a need to investigate whether the superior order constitutes valid defense. The armed forces are the main party that is affected by such laws. It is the duty of every member of the armed forces to obey military orders. This should happen without question. These members of the armed forces are just expected to execute the orders. They are not actively involved in the sense behind these activities. For this reason, they cannot be regarded as the committers of crime. However, these members of the armed forces are bound to obey only lawful orders. Therefore, they should have a vast knowledge of the law. This way, they can be in a position to assess the orders that have been given to them. For example, a marine officer in the US Marines may receive instructions to fire a missile to a nation and lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians (Meyer, 1997). This is an order that is unlawful. In such a situation, it can be extremely tricky for the parties involved. For one, this is a direct order from a superior person. On the other hand, it is an order that may lead to the death of innocent people. Therefore, there is a legal, as well as a moral obligation. In such a situation, the marine officer has the right to ask a question. This is especially if the superior figure is not enough to force the action. This officer has the right to demand confirmation from other superior figures because in both local and international laws, this is an act that can lead to the violation of rights of innocent people. Therefore, the law cannot be on the side of this marine soldier.

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This essay is not just a research based on criminal obedience. It is also an eye-opener to the superior figures all around the world. There are mistakes that have occurred in history. These are mistakes that cannot be undone. However, this should be avoided in the future. Before the laying of critical orders, leaders should double check and predict their consequences because they might be placing their juniors in extremely difficult situations. This issue should also attract the attention of the criminal justice system. There are laws that might be unfair to the juniors who are just under orders from their superiors. Therefore, compromise should be placed in such situations. There should be international laws that deal with taking care of the innocent. If a soldier has the legal obligation to follow orders, there is a need to reconsider the delivery of a penalty on him because the imposition of such may lead to unfairness in the criminal justice system. Therefore, the same system that is supposed to deliver justice to the people may be involved in the obstruction of justice, as well as unjust activities (Dinstein, 2012). If these factors are taken care of, it can be ensured that the people who suffer penalties as a result of criminal obedience actually deserve them. On the other hand, those that are innocent will be left out in the delivery of penalties.


From the essay above, it is clear that criminal obedience is a real crime that can be proven by the law. Therefore, it is not only the fault of the bearer of instructions. Even people who are involved in the actions themselves are lawfully considered as criminals. This means that the soldiers that may get involved in activities that violate the rights of other people are answerable to the law, despite the fact that they are acting on orders from their superiors. However, the penalty provided for them by the law is not as heavy as that which is imposed on the source of the instructions to violate these rights.

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