Virtual Criminal Law Dualism


Since the start of the new millennium, technological and societal changes have initiated a transition from physical to virtual spaces. This farreaching phenomenon has extended to the law and legal institutions, including the criminal law domain. This essay coins the term “virtual criminal law dualism” to describe the dynamic relationship between the virtual and physical spaces in the criminal law sphere. We contend that the transition to virtual spaces has manifested in two distinct aspects. The first relates to formal doctrinal, procedural, and institutional changes that the mainstream criminal law and procedure have undergone due to the emergence of virtual spaces and technological developments (“changes from within”). The second relates to the transformation of criminal law and procedure that occurs under the influence of activities taking place in virtual platforms (“changes from the outside”). By exploring the simultaneous developments stemming from the transition to virtual spaces, we analyze the meaning of these developments, discuss their implications, and offer future directions regarding their potential expansion. We argue that the interplay between virtual and physical spaces is normatively neither encouraged nor discouraged in and of itself. Its value relies on the overarching objectives of the criminal legal system and its capacity to further those objectives.




Criminal Law | Law