We May All Be Criminals – At Least By Definition

Is a criminal defined as someone who is convicted of a crime, or merely someone who has committed one? Based on the latter definition, do you believe that you are a criminal? More importantly, can you be sure of your answer?

America has so many laws on the books – many of them obscure – that most of us probably commit crimes on a regular basis without realizing it. By some estimates, there are about 4,500 criminal statutes at the federal level alone. State statutes add to the total number of laws and sometimes contradict federal ones. And on top of it all, there are perhaps tens of thousands of regulations which are not criminal statutes but which could nonetheless result in criminal penalties. So, can you be sure you’re not a criminal?

Certain crimes like murder, rape, theft and drunk driving are well understood to be illegal and are considered morally wrong. But laws become considerably murkier even when you enter the realm of drug offenses. As a prominent example, every state in which medical marijuana is legal is at odds with federal law, which still lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

With so many laws on the books, enforcement must be selective. Is it any wonder, then, that certain groups tend to face prosecution at much higher rates than others – often along racial lines?

Most of us are probably criminals, in that most of us have probably violated at least one criminal law. If you were among the unlucky group of Americans to be charged with a crime, you need the help of someone who understands this complex system. No matter what the charges might be, you may wish to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment