The Catholic University of America

CUA Law Professor Mary Leary's article "The Third Dimension of Victimization" was published in the newest volume of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. See below.  

The Third Dimension of Victimization 

The Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law is a peer-review, peer-edited journal, and in each issue a symposium is published. A Guest Editor is invited to solicit leading scholars and review articles written for the symposium. This year, Ohio State dedicated its symposium volume to the victim rights movement and Professor Mary Leary was selected as a symposium scholar. Her article "The Third Dimension of Victimization" is a provocative piece which calls for a restructuring of the criminal law to reflect the impact of digital victimization of people. Specifically, the article advocates for a recognition of a third dimension of victimization beyond personal and property crime: the victimization of the digital person.

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Traditionally, when addressing individual victims, the criminal law functions in two dimensions: crimes against the person and crimes against property. 5 This modality is outdated. With the advent of the Internet, electronic commerce, and numerous digital platforms at the very core of modern American existence, modern American criminal law must recognize a third dimension of victimization of individuals: crimes against the digital extension of the person.

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.

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Click here to read the entire article


Mary G. Leary   

Professor Mary G. Leary's
Areas of Expertise

Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Technology

Exploitation of children and women

Human Trafficking

For additional information about our professors' areas of speciality, see the Catholic University Experts page.