The Daily Outrage: Vague new U.S. provisions promote unjust charges 

WHAT: Nearly two dozen federal laws enacted in 2005 and 2006 to combat nonviolent crime don’t spell out that the accused must have had criminal intent, as opposed to making an honest mistake or committing a minor violation. A surprising alliance between the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is pushing for Congress to stop passing confusingly written criminal laws.

WHAT’S BEING DONE: The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing loopholes in three cases prosecuted under a federal fraud law that Justice Antonin Scalia called an easily abused tool for “headline-grabbing prosecutors.” He said the law is so vague that it could lead to charges against a mayor who uses political clout to get a good restaurant table or a salaried employee who calls in sick to go to a ballgame.

 

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