U.S. Criminal Law Reach Expands; Intent to Violate Unnecessary


With a growing number of federal criminal statutes, it’s become increasingly easy for Americans to end up on the wrong side of the law, says the Wall Street Journal. Many of the new laws set a lower bar for conviction than in the past: Prosecutors don’t necessarily need to show that the defendant had criminal intent.

Some examples: father-and-son arrowhead lovers couldn’t argue they made an innocent mistake on protected federal lands. A lobster importer is convicted in the U.S. for violating a Honduran law that the Honduran government disavowed. A Pennsylvanian who injured her husband’s lover faces federal charges tied to an international arms-control treaty. Roscoe Howard, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, argues that the system “isn’t broken.” Congress, he says, took its cue from a public less tolerant of certain behaviors. The full article is available only to paid subscribers.

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