Shouldn't Intent Be A Part Of Criminal Law?
from the how-many-felonies-have-you-committed-today? dept
We just wrote about a grandmother getting arrested for buying cold medicine, without realizing a state limit on how much pseudoephedrine could be bought in a single week. Even though everyone involved admits that this grandmother wasn’t in the meth making business, the police still felt the need to go ahead with the arrest. In the comments, one of our readers, BobInBaltimore, noted that a big part of the problem is the fact that we’ve pretty much done away with the concept of “intent to commit a crime” as being a prerequisite for establishing criminality.
Indeed, the WSJ just had an opinion piece all about the how modern technology has made accidental criminals out of all of us, based on the new book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. As you can probably guess, the thesis of the book is that modern technology, combined with an increasingly confusing, misunderstood or just downright ridiculous set of laws, means that everyone is committing felonies all the time, entirely without meaning to do so. In the opinion piece, it’s argued that we really need to bring back the “intent to commit a crime” requirement, as it would put an end to a lot of these arrests. It makes a lot of sense, which is why it’ll probably never happen.