CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Based on the observation of four tax fraud trials I attended, this article points out how the litigants at the top of the social scale master the law and use it for their own benefit. The analysis of this penal scenography reveals that the judicial ritual fails to transform those accused into criminals. In this way, they have all the space they need to maintain a relative autonomy in their self- presentation and to emphasize the importance of their merits. They adopt different defense strategies according to their gender: in the dock, the inculpated women justify their act by using the argument of protecting their family, whereas the men highlight their professional skills or their attachment to the nation. In both cases, their strategy is to use the law as a weapon, to illustrate their belief that the violence of the state is being directed towards them and to argue that they are victims of its arbitrary power.

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