the totality of legal norms that establish the principles and limits of criminal responsibility, define the actions recognized as crimes, and specify types and measures of punishment. In the USSR criminal legislation is designed to protect the Soviet social and state structure, socialist property, the rights of citizens, and all socialist law and order from criminal infringement. Soviet criminal legislation includes all-Union and republic criminal laws. The most important of the all-Union laws are the Basic Principles of Criminal Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics, the Law on Criminal Responsibility for Crimes Against the State, and the Law on Criminal Responsibility for Military Crimes, all of which were adopted on Dec. 25,1958.
The Basic Principles of Criminal Legislation establish general principles and the most important provisions of the general part of Soviet criminal law: the tasks of criminal legislation, the grounds for and limits of criminal responsibility, the formal definition of crime, the forms of guilt, the concept of justifiable defense, preparation for a crime, attempt, and complicity, as well as the purposes and types of punishment and the principles and procedure for the imposition of punishment. Observance of these principles and provisions is obligatory in the adoption and application of all all-Union and republic criminal laws.
Republic criminal legislation is based on the Basic Principles of Criminal Legislation and on other all-Union criminal legislation. In each Union republic, the criminal codes adopted include all-Union or republic laws that clarify and supplement the codes, for example, Articles 93–1 and 224–1 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR.
In bourgeois states, criminal legislation is designed to protect the principles of capitalism and, primarily, of private property, the exploitation of man by man, and bourgeois law and order. Criminal codes are in effect in the majority of such states, for instance, the federal and state codes in the USA and the Code of 1810 in France. Criminal legislation in Great Britain is not codified; it consists of legislative acts on separate types of crimes, and the general part of criminal law is regulated on the basis of judicial precedents, many of which date from the age of feudalism.