Tag Archives: regulatory crimes

Heritage Report: Overcriminalization: The Legislative Side of the Problem

Originally published at The Heritage Foundaton by Paul J. Larkin, Jr. | 12/13/11
Abstract: The past 75 years in America have witnessed an avalanche of new criminal laws, the result of which is a problem known as “overcriminalization.” This phenomenon is likely to lead to a variety of problems for a public trying to comply with the law in good faith. While many of these issues have already been discussed, one problem created by the overcriminalization of American life has not Continue Reading

In Jail for Backed-Up Toilets

Originally Published at National Review by Shannen W. Coffin December 12 2011
The Wall Street Journal has a powerful illustration today (subscription required) of the problem of overcriminalization of federal law and the related problem of strict liability crimes. It tells the story of Lawrence Lewis, a maintenance engineer at a military retirement home in D.C., who pled guilty to misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act and its implementing regulations — all for discharging a backed-up sewer line into a city storm drain to prevent flooding in an area on the property where, according to the story, the sickest residents lived. Continue Reading

The Legal Consequences of Saving a Baby Woodpecker

Originally published at Cato Institute by Walter Olson | August 2, 2011
Federal law makes it illegal to “take,” “possess,” or “transport” a migratory bird except under permit. If you worry that this sweeping language might give the federal government too much enforcement power, perhaps you are one of those horrid House Republicans who, according to Bryan Walsh in Time magazine, are in the grip of “antigreen ideology” and want to “essentially prevent” agencies like the Department of the Interior “from doing their jobs.” Who else would object to laws meant to protect Nature? Continue Reading

Heritage Report: Solutions for America: Overcriminalization

Originally published at The Heritage Foundation by Marion Smith | 8/17/10
Federal criminal law has exploded in size and scope—and deteriorated in quality. Honest, hard-working Americans doing their best to be respectable, law-abiding citizens can no longer be assured that they are safe from federal prosecutors. Federal criminal law used to focus on inherently wrongful conduct: treason, murder, counterfeiting, and the like. Today, an unimaginably broad range of socially and economically beneficial conduct is criminalized. Continue Reading

Heritage Report: The Unlikely Orchid Smuggler: A Case Study in OverCriminalization

Originally published at The Heritage Foundation by Andrew Grossman | 7/27/09
George Norris, an elderly retiree, had turned his orchid hobby into a part-time business run from the greenhouse in back of his home. He would import orchids from abroad–South Africa, Brazil, Peru–and resell them at plant shows and to local enthusiasts. He never made more than a few thousand dollars a year from his orchid business, but it kept him engaged and provided a little extra money–an especially important thing as his wife, Kathy, neared retirement from her job managing a local mediation clinic. Continue Reading