Watchwoman on the Wall

Watchwoman on the Wall


You may have committed 3 federal crimes today!

posted by Donna Calvin

The Feds Criminalize Ordinary Life

Finally, some front-page attention to a major, and frightening, American problem!

The overproliferation of federal criminal laws and regulations (the U.S. system was designed to keep most criminal statutes at the state and local level), combined with the extreme weakening of mens rea requirements, now means that ordinary Americans on average commit ‘three felonies a day.’

:::::::::::::::::::

Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal featured an in-depth look at how federal laws increasingly apply criminal penalties for violations involving no mens rea, roughly translated as a “guilty mind.” The stricture against criminal penalties for unwitting violations is an age-old, bedrock legal principle. Alas, in today’s dangerously armed, bureaucratic super-state, ancient legal principles go by the wayside when politicians pretend to be “tough on crime” and when officious civil “servants” indulge their fetishes for power.

U.S.governments at every level these days are prone to “overcriminalization,” which means turning ordinary activity into violations of the law, turning what should be civil violations into criminal ones, and applying penalties far harsher than should be warranted.

On the mens rea front, the Journal explains: “In recent decades, Congress has repeatedly crafted laws that weaken or disregard the notion of criminal intent. Today not only are there thousands more criminal laws than before, but it is easier to fall afoul of them…. Today, there are an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, plus thousands more embedded in federal regulations.”

The Journal highlighted the case of Wade Martin, who legally hunted sea otters but then sold them to a person not qualified to buy them (Martin says he thought the buyer was legal). Another man was charged with illegal ownership of a firearm for keeping a single bullet (no gun) in a box in his room. Yet another, Robert Eldridge, accidentally caught a humpback whale in his fishing net, took care to free the whale, but was unable to remove about 30 feet of netting from the whale’s body. He was criminally charged because he failed to contact authorities to find a trained rescuer to finish removing the net.

These stories are just a microcosm of the problem. In 2010 I contributed a single chapter to the Heritage Foundation bookOne Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. I wrote of how Krister Evertson, an inventor trying to produce an environmentally friendly fuel cell, was first arrested for putting the wrong label on an otherwise perfectly legal mailing package – and then imprisoned for improperly “disposing” of an environmental hazard that he had notactually disposed of and that was stored in a non-hazardous fashion.

Other horror stories in the book included that of a 71-year-old imprisoned for importing otherwise legal orchids without proper paperwork, the honor student arrested for having a “weapon” on school grounds (while she moved into her own apartment, a kitchen knife had fallen behind the seat of a car she then parked on campus), the grandmother arrested because her bushes were too high and the seafood importer imprisoned for eight years because he packed lobster tails in plastic instead of cardboard.

The orchid and lobster cases involved violations of one of the most idiotic laws imaginable, the Lacey Act, aimed against “trafficking” in wildlife and plants in ways that – get this – violate not U.S. laws but the laws of foreign nations. This is the same law being used, and abused, by the crypto-criminal conspiracy known as the Obama/Holder Justice Department to conduct the now-infamous raid onTennessee’s Gibson Guitar factory.

More often than not, these arrests are carried out by gun-wielding thugs in uniform, with the alleged violators treated like murderous madmen rather than ordinary citizens with weak record-keeping skills. Who knew, after all, that even the Small Business Administration and the Railroad Retirement Board need armed agents? That’s at the federal level. At the local level, oft-poorly-trained SWAT teams proliferate unnecessarily, leading to far too many stories like the notorious one of the small-townMaryland mayor whose dogs were killed and family abused in a mistaken drug raid.

The overproliferation of federal criminal laws and regulations (the U.S.system was designed to keep most criminal statutes at the state and local level), combined with the extreme weakening of mens rearequirements, now means that ordinary Americans on average commit “three felonies a day.” That is the conclusion of noted lawyer Harvey Silverglate, whose 2009 book of that title makes the point that all of us, without ill intent, act in our everyday lives in numerous ways that are “potentially criminal.”

Ordinary life should not be treated as a criminal conspiracy.

Read more: http://cfif.org/v/index.php/commentary/54-state-of-affairs/1156-the-feds-criminalize-ordinary-life

Former U.S.attorney generals Ed Meese and Richard Thornburgh asked Congress last winter merely to ensure that any bills carrying criminal penalties be referred to the Judiciary Committee for review. To their great discredit, the House GOP leadership failed to adopt such a rule.

In truth, Congress should do far more. It should undertake a comprehensive review of the federal criminal code – and perform some radical liposuction on it.

Read more: http://cfif.org/v/index.php/commentary/54-state-of-affairs/1156-the-feds-criminalize-ordinary-life



Advertisement
Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Texas Man’s Pregnant Wife Never Wanted to Have a Gun in the House – But Now She’s Sure Glad He Insisted
Item #1 of 2 [caption id="attachment_28130" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Guns save more lives protecting the innocent and victims of crime than any mainstream news outlet has ever told you about! Thank God that lawful citizens are protected by the 2nd Amendment Right to Bear Arms and defe

posted 10:42:28pm Sep. 13, 2013 | read full post »

Heartwarming! Service dog helps teen with diabetes
Calvin's Commentary: The following story and video is about a young 18-year old teenager, Sadie Jensen, with a debilitating, life-threatening, incurable, life-long illness and a service dog named Bailey. Bailey has been trained to detect and warn Sadie when her blood sugar drops so low she could die

posted 9:57:47pm Sep. 13, 2013 | read full post »

9-11-TRIBUTE-2013 ~ 2 Million Bikers Rally To Washington DC vs Million Muslim Demonstration where 20-25 Showed up for ill-timed "No Fear" Protest
KNOW HOW THE MUSLIMS CAN GET PEOPLE TO STOP FEARING THEM? THEY DON'T NEED TO DEMONSTRATE! JUST QUIT BLOWING UP CHRISTIANS AND OTHER PEOPLE AND BUILDINGS! QUIT BEHEADING NON MUSLIMS! STOP THEIR TERROR TACTICS! STOP MAKING WARS IN THE MIDDLE EAST! STOP SAYING THEY ARE GOING TO WIPE ISRAEL O

posted 10:36:17pm Sep. 12, 2013 | read full post »

Family dog helps alert parents to abusive baby sitter (video)
Good Dog! Snitched on ill-treatment of his beloved family member and sent babysitter to jail! ↓To view video, click large arrow in center below↓ A loyal and protective dog helped alert parents to an abusive baby sitter in South Carolina. According to WCSC, which originally reported t

posted 8:48:41pm Sep. 12, 2013 | read full post »

Sept.11,2013 - 3 Good News Stories #3: Fisherman Reels in Wallet Stolen 3 Years Ago
GOOD NEWS ARTICLE #3 [caption id="attachment_28048" align="aligncenter" width="608"] Stolen Wallet found by Joshua Woods while fishing.  But there's an even stranger twist to this story. Woods wasn't always the person he is today and wonders if he would have returned the wallet if he were the

posted 12:36:17am Sep. 11, 2013 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.