The Third Dimension of Victimization

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Leary, Mary Graw
Criminal Law; Law
article description
This article advocates for consideration of a restructuring of criminal laws at a basic level. It argues for the recognition of a third dimension of victimization. States must review criminal codes and restructure them to recognize the many new forms of victimization that are achieved digitally. Because of the uniquely pernicious harms of digital victimization, current criminal codes are insufficient. They fail to capture both the social value being protected and the harms accomplished through these digital victimizations. This article argues that one’s digital presence can, in fact, be an extension of oneself. As such, one’s digital self can be harmed in ways that are distinct from our current understanding of personal or property crimes. This form of victimization should be recognized by the criminal law, and the social interests in protecting individuals in this dimension should be reflected in the criminal law.Part II explores the purpose of criminal law and argues that criminal codes do not achieve their purpose when they fail to sufficiently address these digital victimizations. Part III describes the emergence of the digital self and the unique harms that the digital self suffers. Part IV explores areas of criminal law that have made similar adaptations, arguing that this history supports recognizing this new paradigm. Part V analyzes current de facto recognitions of the digital self in the criminal law. Finally, Part VI describes what form such a criminal law restructuring should take in order to reflect these modern values and fulfill the promise of criminal law in society. It advocates for adding a third dimension of victimization: crimes against the digital person as an extension of the physical person.