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  • One Nation Under Arrest

    One nation, under arrest

    If you did not know that you were supposed to affix a federally mandated sticker to your otherwise lawful UPS package, should you be arrested face down on the pavement by FBI agents training automatic weapons at you? Our hunch is that most reasonable Americans would respond with an emphatic ‘No!’ Today we are launching a series of posts based on case studies adapted from our new book, One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. The book includes stories of average Americans who have been arrested, prosecuted, convicted – and even imprisoned – despite the fact that they were doing their best to be respectable, law-abiding citizens. The UPS-sticker example is just one real world example we will be highlighting.

    Heritage fellow Jack Park kicks off the series today. He relates how George Norris, a 67-year-old husband and grandfather, ended up spending almost two years in federal prison. Some of Norris’s paperwork for his home-based orchid business did not meet all of the technical requirements of an international treaty. None of his orchids were illegal to import, possess, or sell, but that did not stop the government from prosecuting and imprisoning him.

    One Nation Under Arrest analyzes the causes of overcriminalization and offers solid proposals for reforming the law. To be solved, the problems of overcriminalization must be fully recognized and understood. Overcriminalization includes applying criminal penalties to activities that are socially and economically beneficial. Consider, for example, the obscure environmental laws that dictate what you can and cannot do in your own home even when they may not provide any clear environmental benefit.

    Overcriminalization also includes creating offenses that are so vague and broad that they grant federal prosecutors a license to deem broad swaths of conduct “criminal.” The federal “honest services” fraud statute, for example, is so vague and far-reaching that even conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has written that prosecutors could use it to convict and imprison Americans who call in “sick” to attend a ballgame.

    Increasingly over the past few decades, the U.S. Congress has been callously disregarding the limits the Constitution places on the federal government’s authority to criminalize otherwise innocent conduct and engaging in similarly improper criminalization. This has partially succeeded in warping Americans’ collective understanding of what should – and what should not – be the subject of federal criminal punishment.

    But most Americans still have not surrendered their sound judgment that criminal punishment should be carefully limited. If you buy or sell personal shares of stock and are unaware that you are technically violating some obscure trading rule on corporate mergers and acquisitions that are conducted via tender offer (whatever that is), should you have to face the possibility of paying for your lack of knowledge by spending time in federal prison with murderers, child rapists, and drug traffickers?  Anyone who has traded stock yet is not intimately familiar with the hundreds or thousands of relevant statutes, rules, and regulations would again probably say ‘No!’

    Congress and state legislatures increasingly view the criminal law as the tool of choice to “solve” every problem, punish every mistake (instead of making appropriate use of civil penalties), and coerce Americans into conforming their behavior to satisfy social engineering objectives. Criminal law should be used to redress only that conduct which Americans rightly and reasonably determine is deserving of society’s greatest punishment and moral sanction. As had been the rule for centuries, no one should be punished as a criminal unless he committed a wrongful act knowing that it was illegal or wrongful – that is, unless he acted with criminal intent.

    Like the stories in this Foundry series, One Nation Under Arrest highlights how criminal law and punishment today frequently transgress these boundaries and harm the innocent. If you want to know more about how overcriminalization endangers you and other honest, respectable Americans, keep checking in on this Foundry series and click below to order a copy of One Nation Under Arrest.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to One Nation Under Arrest

    1. ROBERT 78 says:

      SO NOW " WE THE PEOPLE" OF AMERICANS NOW KNOW —WHERE ARE THE F.B.I. AND U.S. MARAHALL AND U.S.MILITARY ARE NOW ! READ THIS STORIES ARE TALKING ABOUT

      F.B.I. ARE DOING TO ARREST SO CALLED "ONE NATION UNDER ARREST",

      "WE THE PEOPLE" KNOWS FOR SURE THEY ARE COMMANDED UNDER "OBAMA – CHIEF STAFFS — CABINETS" ESPECIALLY VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN ALSO CHIEF STAFF EMANUEL" CONTROL THESE !!.

      "WE THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA MUST REMEMBER UNDER OUR "IN GOD WE TRUST AND OUR CONSTITUTION & AMENDMENT LAWS", WE HAVE EVERY RIGHTS TO IMPEACH AND FORCE OBAMA TO RESIGN BY WITH U.S. MILITARY TO OBAMA, IF NOT THEN "WE THE PEOPLE " MUST ACTS AS WE ARE AMERICAN ARMY LEADERS TO ENTER WHITE HOUSE WITH PAPERS SERVE TO THEM OBAMA AND STAFFS AND CABINETS TO RESIGNS AN D ARREST THEM FOR TRAILS FOR HIGEST CRIMES !. LETS DO IT "WE THE PEOPLE" OF AMERICA ARMY NOW…

    2. bigdave, Ocala says:

      What no one will tell you, especially this "progressive government", is that Tim Mc Veigh became a terrorist because of one reason: to strike back at Bill Clinton and Janet Reno for KILLING CHRISTIANS IN WACO, TEX!! That is why this government is so afraid of CHRISTIANS(and thy really do see them as the enemy!?). Of course NOBODY in their right mind would do what McVeigh did! You simply do not KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE to make a point, even if they are in a federal building! It is understandable though at the rage one can feel when wrongdoing goes UNPUNISHED, especially when it is the government which can do whatever it wants to the CITIZENRY without fear of punishment! Kind of like we have again! Another group of moronic PROGRESSIVES!!! Ignore the muslim jihadists who have SWORN TO KILL US ALL, TRAMPLE OUR CONSTITUTION and go after CHRISTIANS! This truly is NOT A GOVERNMENT OF AND FOR THE PEOPLE!!!

    3. Ross writes from Bra says:

      It seems that ordinary taxpayers are now criminals and don't even know it. We are too far from our God-given and Constitutional rights. Some how government has forgotten we are the sovernity of this nation, not subjects to government control of personal freedoms and independence.

    4. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      Thank You So Much! Heritage Foundation's Overcrimilized website has been most informative about the burgeoning Thought Crime Industry in the United States. Americans are numb these days, so many false prosecutions take place we have become acclimatized to tyranny. That in itself is a dangerous thing.

      I argue that the Constitution has been driven into the ground by the Progressive Liberals (infiltraitors) and it is this very thing. The Constitution is perceived to be unworkable because the Commies have ignored it for so long.

    5. Billie says:

      Freedom means living for yourself. Not for government or anyone else. We are free. Free are we. If Obama lets freedom be!

    6. Billie says:

      Freedom means: living for yourself. Not for government or anyone else. We are free. Free are we. If Obama lets freedom be!

    7. KLIMAX Baltimore MD. says:

      If the Federal government can do these things to Tax Paying American Citizens why can't they round up the illegal aliens in OUR country and put them out??!! Insanity comes in many forms but this is the most outrageous I have ever heard!!!

    8. Mark says:

      1% of Americans are in jail. We arrest over 800,000 people per year for posession of marrijuana. Thousands of people are dying because of the drug war on the Mexican border. Isn't it time to reconsider our police priorities? The punishment for any crimes should not exceed the damage from crime itself.

      Why wouldn't the moderators share my previous similar post? Does it make too much common sense to be refuted by other Heritage readers?

    9. Drew Page, IL says:

      I am still having a lot of trouble believeing this. It seems to me that if this person who was arrested had a family, that they or even a public defender for this man could have gotten this travesty into the newspapers. Even if the lame stream media wouldn't touch this story, it would seem that an outlet like Fox News would have been all over this.

      Was this travesty ever appealed to a higher court? I don't see how it could not have been. There has got to be more to this story. I hope Heritage will pursue it and fill us in.

    10. Tami Galloway says:

      How long will America go on like this? I suppose until we wake up one day and realize we have NO rights over anything. My understanding is now they're trying to come up with a law to regulate my pond??? Did I wake up in America or China?

    11. Helmetfoot says:

      Drive along a roadway. Pass a policeman hiding behind a sign.

      Flash your lights to let an oncoming car know that there is a speed trap ahead of him.

      Get arrested for obstruction of justice.

      Yes they can do it.

      Borrow a car. get stopped and they find drugs that belong to the car owner. Get arrested even if you had no intent to sell or use or anything.

      Look at federal laws and see how many there are that don't require INTENT. You can be arrested for doing something even if you didn't intend to hurt or steal or break a law.

      Watch out. Whatever you do may be a crime. Our legislators don't read what laws they pass, so anything can be a crime.

      I

    12. Corky, Howey in the says:

      I think this article tells alot about how WE THE PEOPLE have taken our Freedom for granted. For years we have not been paying any attention to what our government has been doing. Now we have a run-a-way government and it's getting worse because we allowed it to happen! Obama has seazed on this and is using it (and other deceitful tricks) to take COMPLETE CONTROL of our Nation Under Arrest!! IF we continue to let him get away with what he's doing to us then we have no one to blame but OURSELVES!! Think about it then get out and VOTE and help end it.

    13. Dennis Social Circle Ga. says:

      Freedom is not and will never be free. Many died for freedom, few died to be arrested. We have allowed this nation to be brain washed by the few, in an effort to protect the majority, yet gave up or common sence when it happened.

    14. Pingback: Whither the written word? | The Daily Caller - Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment

    15. Barbara says:

      Yes, I would like to leave a comment.

      This is so true. I was arrested just because a pharmacist wanted to over charge me for my blood pressure pills. I refused to pay full price for them in which he wanted to charge me $500.00 for them. The full price was $223.00. But since I am on medicare LIS (Low Income Subsidy) my blood pressure pills are $6.50. The pharmacist got angry, called security and security called the police. The police took me jail, arrested me, booked and I had to pay bail to get out in which this was the very first time I was ever arrested. There were no recogninsince. I hired an attorney, the attorney did not represent me properly, it was a speedy trial, it lasted seven months. My right were violated from the 3rd to the 9th amendments. My attorney coerce me to plead guilty by threats of going to jail for up to six months. I Was innocence. I was also was refused a public defender. This is all the honest to God Truth. I am also a 68 year old, disabled woman.

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