Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Unlikely Alliance Attacks Overcriminalization

An unlikely alliance has come together to protest "overcriminalization" on the federal level. The Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have collaborated on a report that says Congress is criminalizing at a "reckless pace." Although the report does not address it, individual states are also criminalizing at a fevered pitch.

The relentless piling on with regard to sex offenders is but one example. Residency restrictions, which actually do nothing to prevent re-offending and send sex offenders underground where they are less easily supervised and more likely to re-offend. To put it another way, states enact Megan's Law, which requires sex offenders to register their residence and then enact residency restrictions which push them out of their registered address.

The joint report found that by the end of 2007, the United States Code included over 4,450 federal crimes, with an estimated tens of thousands more located in the federal regulatory code. Many of these offenses were only recently created, and far too many lack an adequate guilty-mind (known by lawyers as mens rea) requirement. According to the report, the 109th Congress alone proposed 446 non-violent criminal offenses, 57 percent of which lacked an adequate guilty-mind requirement. The report, Without Intent: How Congress Is Eroding the Criminal Intent Requirement in Federal Law, revealed that 23 of those offenses were enacted into law often riddled with vague, far-reaching and imprecise language.

To read the full report:

No comments:

Post a Comment