“Bad genes” & criminal responsibility

María Isabel González-Tapia, Ingrid Obsuth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genetics of the accused is trying to break into the courts. To date several candidate genes have been put forward and their links to antisocial behavior have been examined and documented with some consistency. In this paper, we focus on the so called “warrior gene”, or the low-activity allele of the MAOA gene, which has been most consistently related to human behavior and specifically to violence and antisocial behavior. In preparing this paper we had two objectives. First, to summarize and analyze the current scientific evidence, in order to gain an in depth understanding of the state of the issue and determine whether a dominant line of generally accepted scientific knowledge in this field can be asserted. Second, to derive conclusions and put forward recommendations related to the use of genetic information, specifically the presence of the low-activity genotype of the MAOA gene, in modulation of criminal responsibility in European and US courts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-71
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Early online date21 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • criminal responsibility
  • genetic and environmental interaction
  • MAOA
  • Continental and Common Law legal systems
  • fury and provocation


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