Autonomy is a central concept of Society and the Social Sciences. It is also an important concept in Philosophy.
Autonomy presents itself in various ways, depending on the Domain in question:
The legal and criminal culpability of an act is traditionally held to be proportional to the "state of mind" of the accused. Factors such as being under duress, physically or psychologically, the knowledge of the nature and consequences of the act, mentally capacity and maturity, and various other factors all have an impact on whether an act is criminally liable, and to what extent. All of these factors can be interpreted as a measure of the autonomy of the accused in the commission of the act.
The possibility of a criminal or civil penalty causing an individual to forego an action is dependant upon their ability to imagine and measure the negative consequences to themselves of such a penalty, and the likelihood of the act being discovered, alongside the possible gains of committing the act nonetheless, and deciding to forego the action if they perceive the consequences to be adverse to their interests.
Precedence is a principle of Law that maintains that the legal consequence of an act ought to be well-known beforehand for any legal preceding to be fair and just. The implication is that an autonomous individual must have either notice or knowledge of their options and proposed actions in advance.