Model Penal Code (MPC)

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The Model Penal Code (or MPC) is a model code assembled by the American Legal Institute that was first promulgated in 1962. Following the MPC’s promulgation, many states’ criminal codes underwent significant reforms, and to this day, many states’ criminal codes are based on the MPC.

The MPC is comprised of four parts: (I) general principles of liability; (II) definitions of specific offenses; (III) provisions governing treatment and correction; and (IV) provisions governing the organization of corrections departments and divisions.

Two of the MPC’s parts have gained historic significance: (I) the general principles of liability and (II) the definition of specific offenses. The sentencing, treatment, and corrections portions of parts III and IV were not as well-received and were quickly left behind.

The MPC defined crimes using an elements analysis to distinguish between the different elements of a crime that are required for liability. Additionally, the MPC standardized mens rea terms to determine defendants’ mental states. 

See also: Model Penal Code Insanity Defense

For more reading on the MPC, see The American Model Penal Code: A Brief Overview. 

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]