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CRIMINAL OMISSIONSGRAHAM HUGHES"ALL regulation must be concerned with the things we ought not to do, thethings we may do and the things we ought to do. The law is composed ofhypothetical patterns of conduct-conduct from which we must abstain onpain of sanction, conduct which we must pursue to attain certain ends and,more rarely, conduct which we must follow to avoid penalty. In criminal law,the classic picture has been of a body of prohibitions, but the criminal law hasnever been exclusively prohibitive. And this is not surprising, for even theDecalogue contains incitement to positive action and the western religiousconcept of sin has always contemplated inactivity as sometimes immoral. But,for the most part, our criminal law in its progress has only occasionally andalmost reluctantly admitted the offense of omission within its scope. In recentdecades the picture has been changing, and one of the most significant featuresof the modern development of penal laws has been the widening ran...