Vagueness as a Criminal Defence

September 8th 2015

This article seeks to answer the question as to whether vagueness should be a criminal defence.

Degrees of Uncertainty

It is possible to detect three degrees of uncertainty. A provision may be ambiguous, vague or meaningless. This threefold classification is the bedrock for the arguments that vagueness is a defence.


The provision has two or more identifiable meanings. For example ‘bank’ can mean the side of a river of a financial institution. Or it has an indiscrete range of meanings as occurs, for example, with terms such as ‘reasonable’ and ‘fair’.