Thursday, December 09, 2010

Eroding the Definition of "Crime"

Another delightful feature of ObozoCare is a serious--and we mean serious--change in the judicial standards of "crime."

....Specifically, Section 6402(f)(2) revises existing law so that the government can ignore the criminal intent principle in violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKB). AKB prohibits the payment or receipt of remuneration in exchange for referrals or the purchase of goods and services paid for by a federal health care program. It is a criminal statute, the violation of which is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years. Prior to last March, the government could not obtain a conviction under AKB unless it proved that a defendant knew about the law and intentionally ignored it. The authors of PPACA used the health care bill to revise the statute such that "a person need not have actual knowledge of [AKB] or specific intent to commit a violation."

The subject of the revision is not really too important.

What IS important is the red-highlighted text.

Worse yet is that eliminating 'intent' and 'knowledge' is becoming much more common at the Federal level.

...Congress has ignored the principle of criminal intent in an increasing number of statutes covering a wide variety issues and industries. As Edwin Meese III and Norman L. Reimer put it in their Foreword to the recently published Heritage Foundation report, "Without Intent: How Congress is Eroding the Criminal Intent Requirement in Federal Law," this pattern has "dangerously impaired the justification for criminal punishment that has for centuries been based on an individual's intent to commit a wrongful act. This trend undermines confidence in government and risks pervasive injustice."

And for you church-haters out there, one major correction to the AmSpec article: the requirements of "intent" and "knowledge" are not originally derived from English common law.

They are derived from the Catholic Church's definition of sin.

You'll be happy to know that while you rot away in Leavenworth, of course.

HT: Eyes of Faith


Anonymous said...

Dad29--"And for you church-haters out there, one major correction to the AmSpec article: the requirements of "intent" and "knowledge" are not originally derived from English common law.
They are derived from the Catholic Church's definition of sin."

How would someone be a church hater by trying to put things into perspective?

While certainly what you report has merit, several ancient societies, most notably the Babylonians and Summarians, had developed law codes in which "knowledge" and "intent" were based on a distinct sense of right and wrong. You want to call that "morality" or "ethics", fine.

"Original sin"? That concept would have been foreign to those two aforementioned groups since, as you know, St. Augustine was the first theologian to teach that man is born into this world in a state of sin. I suppose, however, one could argue that the Summarians and Babylonians may have had a rudimentary form of that concept.

The Romans before Christ had also developed a sophisticated legal system based on "intent"
and "knowledge" and had incorporated ancient law codes. English Common Law? Same thing.

John Foust said...

Shh! You're not supposed to question him! It's against the rules! You'll be declared a troll here!

Nothing came before the Catholic Church! Everything is based on it! Long for the good ol' days when it was the government and the only allowed Church!

Dad29 said...

Anony, the article I linked referred to "English common law."

No mention of "original sin" anyplace in my take, nor the article, but hey.

Happy to know that the Romans had similar thoughts!

Too bad about Babylon and Sumeria, no?

Anonymous said...

Dad29--"Intent" and "knowledge" may be derived from the Catholic Church's definition of sin, but that would cover canon law.

In the American legal system, "intent" and "knowledge" has its roots in English common law, which was based on ancient law codes.

Please note the DISTINCTION.

It would also seem that you are making the case that perhaps the federal government ought to adopt the requirements of "intent" and "knowledge" derived from the RCC. One problem with that line of's called separation of church and state.

"Too bad about Babylon and Sumeria, no?"

Actually, there is an interesting theory posited--that the origin of the Christian trinity may have descended from these ancient civilizations.

Anonymous said...

"Happy to know that the Romans had similar thoughts".

What, that their legal concepts of "intent" and "knowledge" was entirely (or even partially) based on the RCC's definition of sin? Um, not that I am aware of.

Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Jim said...

Whatever happened to personal responsibility and "ignorance of the law is no excuse"?

Dad29 said...

Anony, you're moving from "enlightening" to "silly" here.

1) Discounting Roman law for the minute, it should be obvious that since Catholicism was the dominant religious force from ~300 AD forward, its moral system would have a significant impact on the civil law system. By and large they cover the same topics, you know.

2) The post calls for a more considered look at "intent" and "knowledge" as a component of Federal criminal law (and not only in ObozoCare.) The citation is to Ed Meese, who is NOT a secret agent of the Pope, and who DOES understand the First Amendment much better than you do. (It ain't 'separation' of Church and State.)

3) Plotinus both had mused over the nature of "The One" and had developed a vaguely-Trinitarian philosophy--not a theology per se--which may have been derived from Sumerian philosophy. There is a Trinitarian reference in the Old Testament, as well. However, only the Catholic church defined the Trinity dogmatically.

Jim: 'ignorance is no excuse' does not cover 'intent.' Meese (et al) are making a larger point: there are problems with 'default guilty' through regulatory or even legal fiat.