Peculatus – Several Remarks on the Classification of the Offence of Embezzlement of Public Funds in Roman Law
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The offence of embezzlement of public funds – peculatus – is an interesting research subject due to the Roman legislator’s original approach to the issue of the classification of types of criminal offences (crimina). The paper aims to present Roman regulations concerning peculatus from the perspective of the methods of classifying its features as adopted by the compilers, taking into account both the normative contents of original laws (created by the original authors of these laws), as well as those added by later legislative factors: emperors, the senate and jurisprudence. The study of the Julian law on embezzlement of public funds may be conducted following the Justinian’s title Ad legem Iuliam peculatus et de sacrilegis et de residuis (Dig., 48, 13). Peculatus was the basic type of the offence of embezzlement of public funds. In the time of Augustus, two separate types of the offence isolated from peculatus, which were sacrilegium (probably within one law - lex Iulia peculatus) and embezzlement of a specific kind of money, i.e. pecunia residua (probably within a separate law - lex Iulia de residuis). Despite being quite precisely defined by the law, the type of the offence of embezzlement of public funds must have raised doubts when it came to applying the law, in cases where the act the offender was charged with came close to theft (crimen furti) or forgery (crimen falsi).
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