This article focuses on the most recent debates in a certain area of the ‘law and emotion’ field, namely the literature on the role of affect in the criminal law. Following the dominance of cognitivism in the philosophy of emotions, authors moved away from seeing emotions as contaminations on reason and examined how affective reactions could be accommodated within penal proceedings. The review is structured into two main components. I look first at contributions about the multi-dimensional presence of emotions within ordinary criminal proceedings. Second, I examine work done on the use of criminal trials under the emotionally stressful circumstances of post-conflict societies. In the conclusion I sketch a theoretical proposal for moving the discussion forward.