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    Florida’s Interior-Design Disaster

    We’ve all heard of the fashion police but probably assumed that was just a figure of speech.  It turns out, however, that if you don’t have the bureaucratic blessing of a license and yet deign to select drapes, recommend paintings, or (horrors!) place Persian rugs and decorative partitions for a … More

    Bobby Unser vs the Feds

    In 1997 three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser was convicted of a federal crime that exposed him to a $5,000 fine and a six month prison sentence. What did Unser do that so angered the federal government? He got lost in a blizzard. That’s it. How did getting lost in … More

    Overcriminalization: Attacking a Dangerous Precedent

    What happens when the Florida legislature eliminates the centuries-old requirement that the government must prove that an accused person acted with criminal intent before he may be punished as a criminal?  It risks making almost anyone a criminal – both those who intend to commit a crime and those who … More

    The Way Criminal Law is Supposed to Work

    Although sanity and common sense are frequently lacking in opinions issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski offered both those things in a concurrence he recently authored in U.S. v. Goyal. In convicting Probhat Goyal (the former CFO of Network Associates) of securities fraud, submitting … More

    Rolling Back Overcriminalization

    Between 2000 and 2007, the United States Congress created 452 entirely new crimes, a rate of over one new crime every week. By the end of 2007, the U.S. Code included more than 4,450 federal crimes, with an estimated tens of thousands more located in the federal regulatory code. Worse, … More

    Morning Bell: Fighting Back Against Arbitrary Government Rule

    Abner Schoenwetter had been in the commercial seafood business since 1986. Over the years, Schoenwetter built a successful company distributing seafood across the country, including lobster tails imported from overseas. As far as Schoenwetter knew, all of his business transactions were perfectly legal and he had no reason to believe … More

    The Economist on Overcriminalization

    There are many shocking real-life stories in Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Research Fellow Brian Walsh’s and co-author Visiting Fellow Paul Rosenzweig’s new book, One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. None perhaps as revealing as the one The Economist chose to highlight … More

    Federal Court Strikes Down Another Example of Overcriminalization

    A Colorado federal court last week struck down another of Congress’s well-intentioned but poorly drafted criminal laws—a law that exemplifies some of the root problems of overcriminalization.  In a well-reasoned opinion [2010 WL 2802691 (opinion not yet available on the Internet)], the court held that the broad offense in the … More

    John Stossel on One Nation Under Arrest

    In 1998, an American Bar Association task force estimated that there were over 3,000 federal criminal offenses scattered throughout the 50 titles of the United States Code. Just six years later, that number is estimated to be over 4,000.  If 4,000 seems like a high number consider the fact that … More

    Supreme Court Strikes a Blow Against Overcriminalization

    Exposing the extent to which criminal law has expanded, the Supreme Court today narrowed the scope of the federal “honest services” fraud statute and called into question the validity of Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling’s conviction.  Justice Sonia Sotomayor and two other “liberal” justices would have gone even further than the … More