A recent New York Law Journal article, Overcriminalization of Non-Violent Conduct: Time for Real Reform by attorneys Robert J. Anello and Richard F. Albert, examines the proliferation of federal criminal laws and the resulting increase in the federal prison population, approximately 40% above capacity, costing taxpayers almost $7 billion a year, almost 30% of the Justice Department's budget. The article cites Without Intent: How Congress Is Eroding the Criminal Intent Requirement in Federal Law, which is available in the SARA, the Brooklyn Law School catalog. With Congress adding an average of 500 new crimes to the books in each of the past three decades and the addition of tens of thousands of regulations with criminal penalties, many without traditional mens rea or criminal intent, critics contend that these newly created crimes violate fundamental principles of fair notice, and subjects individuals to criminal punishment for conduct that they do not know is illegal.The article points to a number of proposed remedies including legislative reform and judicial reform. See the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 and United States v. Goyal, 629 F.3d 912 (9th Cir. 2010) where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a corporate CFO's fraud conviction finding that no reasonable jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Friday, June 7, 2013
Posted by Harold O'Grady at 4:50 PM