By R. Tamara de Silva - August 5, 2011

Abstract: Congress has enacted over 4,500 Federal criminal statutes along with 300,000 regulations that criminalize behavior. This has resulted in the proliferation of sometimes vague, amorphous federal offenses, that criminalize otherwise innocuous behavior under theories of strict liability. An American can be charged and found guilty of these crimes, without ever possessing any intent to commit a crime (wrongful intent) or even knowing of their existence. Many of these criminal statutes, like honest services fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice have very attenuated connections to the Federal government's constitutional powers and to any actual crimes. These vague laws do not lend themselves to definition as crimes like murder or robbery do-their definitions encompass perfectly legal behavior and as such they criminalize otherwise innocuous conduct depending upon the whim of a prosecutor-in complete circumvention of the language and limitations placed on Federal government by the United States Constitution. Congressional invention of crimes, lacking any wrongful intent-is part of the larger problem in the United States justice system called, overcriminalization. Ignorance of the law is no defense to any American not aware of the hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations at the Federal level (tens of thousands more at the state level) that may propel any American to jail and ruin-depending on the whether and when they are prosecuted. This is not America as it was ever intended to be nor is it an America at peace with the its own Constitution.