Loading...
BYH ECU Trustees. Of course you were not told about the lawsuit against Vidant. Harry Smith and Bill Roper control it...

Reform needed: Many laws too easy to violate

Trump Finance-3

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, speaks to reporters. Hatch is pushing for mens rea reform. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Loading…

Friday, September 14, 2018

Over the past few decades, there has been a proliferation of criminal statutes and regulations carrying criminal penalties at the federal level. As Congress debates criminal justice reform, mens rea reform should be on the table.

For years, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has introduced and called for legislation to require federal criminal laws and regulations to include a mens rea requirement for prosecution.

Mens rea, Latin for “guilty mind,” deals with the mindset of a person accused of committing a crime.

Mens rea requirements can include requiring prosecutors to prove an accused person “knowingly,” ‘‘willfully” or “intentionally” violated the law.

However, while the federal government has grown significantly over the past several decades, so too has the list of criminal statutes and regulations carrying criminal sanctions.

According to the Heritage Foundation, there are about 5,000 federal criminal statutes and upward of 300,000 criminal regulatory offenses on the books, though precisely how many there are isn’t known.

While many do have some mens rea standards in place, many don’t, and there is often plenty of ambiguity of the sort that shouldn’t be acceptable in the context of criminal sanctions.

To provide greater clarity, last October, Hatch, joined by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, David Perdue, R-Georgia, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, introduced the Mens Rea Reform Act of 2017.

The law called for “a default intent standard for all criminal laws and regulations that lack such a standard.”

“Prosecutors should have to show a suspect had a guilty mind, not just that they committed an illegal act, before an American is put behind bars,” Lee said in a statement.

Unfortunately, the proposal failed to gain traction. However, Hatch, joined by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has since reintroduced a more moderate version of the Mens Rea Reform Act to achieve the same end.

The 2018 version would “establish an extended process for federal agencies and Congress, with the assistance of a National Criminal Justice Commission and input from the public, to clarify the mens rea requirements in our existing criminal laws.”

This approach, which Hatch concedes is more “incremental” than previous efforts, would certainly be an improvement over the status quo.

The proposal has drawn the support of the American Conservative Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Rick Jones, president of the NACDL, rightly notes that the failure to have intent requirements that are clearly defined “undermines the moral authority of our justice system.”

It is unacceptable that Americans can be held criminally accountable for crimes without there being clear intent standards in place.

In a nation predicated on individual liberty and limited government, mens rea reform of the sort called for by Hatch is long overdue. We encourage federal lawmakers to give the matter the consideration it deserves.

The Orange County, California, Register

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

May 25, 2019

Want to understand how the tariffs on China work? Don’t take President Donald Trump’s word for it.

Here’s what he’s had to say. We’ll follow with why he’s wrong, who really pays and who really suffers (hint, it’s not China or Trump).

First, from…

China Trade-2

May 21, 2019

Our planet is on life support.

That’s the dire message from a landmark United Nations report that found one million species of plants and animals — out of a total of eight million — are at risk of extinction as the result of human actions.

It’s a message the world dare not…

Trump Giraffes Endangered

May 20, 2019

Kim Strach, the executive director of the state Board of Elections, was doing a good job before she got fired Monday. She’d helped guide the board through the minefield of the 9th Congressional District election fraud scandal. She’d offered strong suggestions to lawmakers about…

Election 2018 North Carolina-6

May 19, 2019

All eyes were on Alabama on Tuesday as the State Senate debated then passed what could become the most restrictive abortion law in the country. Under the legislation, which Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed on Wednesday, women in Alabama would be forced to carry unwanted or nonviable pregnancies to…

Abortion Regulations Lawsuits-4

May 18, 2019

President Trump often cites the stock market as proof of his economic-policy success, so let’s hope he was watching the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday. The Dow fell 2.38 percent, and the Nasdaq and Russell 2000 fell even more, on the escalating tariff dispute between the U.S. and…

Financial Markets Wall Street

May 13, 2019

It was Nixon who went to China. And now the forces for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina have their own unlikely champion.

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, a conservative firebrand best known for his controversial views on immigration, has lent his support to a bill, sponsored by Rep.…

StateLegislature

May 11, 2019

The Carolina Hurricanes are one playoff series away from the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, and they’re gathering up fans in the Triangle and across North Carolina.

Although this seems like a fun thing, it’s apparently not a great thing. At least according to legendary Canadian hockey…

Hurricanes Capitals Hockey

May 07, 2019

The bidding war for votes in the Democratic presidential primary escalated quickly this week with a proposal by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to wipe out student debt, courtesy of the taxpayers.

Warren’s proposal, put forward not in proposed legislation but in a blog post, would cancel…

Election 2020 Elizabeth Warren-2

May 07, 2019

As last week's massive teacher march and rally in Raleigh approached, lawmakers geared up for a crush of visitors advocating for public education. There were rope lines set up at the entrance of the Legislative Building, and many legislators put up welcoming signs in their offices offering snacks…

Colin Campbell

May 06, 2019

As Hurricane Matthew’s floodwaters receded and we began cleaning up the massive mess, it became apparent that we had some difficult challenges ahead. A changing climate was making hurricanes bigger, slower, wetter. We saw the need to prepare for the kind of flooding we encountered. A lot of…

Tropical Weather North Carolina-2
59 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 6
        Next Page»   Last Page»