Legalizing Crime

The state has a monopoly on behaviour usually deemed criminal. It murders, kidnaps, and locks up people. Sovereignty has come to be identified with the unbridled – and exclusive – exercise of violence. The emergence of modern international law has narrowed the field of permissible conduct. A sovereign can no longer commit genocide or ethnic cleansing with impunity, for instance.

Many acts – such as the waging of aggressive war, the mistreatment of minorities, the suppression of the freedom of association – hitherto sovereign privilege, have thankfully been criminalized. Many politicians, hitherto immune to international prosecution, are no longer so. Consider Yugoslavia’s Milosevic and Chile’s Pinochet.

But, the irony is that a similar trend of criminalization – within national legal systems – allows governments to oppress their citizenry to an extent previously unknown. Hitherto civil torts, permissible acts, and common behaviour patterns are routinely criminalized by legislators and regulators. Precious few are decriminalized.

Consider, for instance, the criminalization in the Economic Espionage Act (1996) of the misappropriation of trade secrets and the criminalization of the violation of copyrights in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (2000) – both in the USA. These used to be civil torts. They still are in many countries. Drug use, common behaviour in England only 50 years ago – is now criminal. The list goes on.

Criminal laws pertaining to property have malignantly proliferated and pervaded every economic and private interaction. The result is a bewildering multitude of laws, regulations statutes, and acts.

The average Babylonian could have memorizes and assimilated the Hammurabic code 37 centuries ago – it was short, simple, and intuitively just.

English criminal law – partly applicable in many of its former colonies, such as India, Pakistan, Canada, and Australia – is a mishmash of overlapping and contradictory statutes – some of these hundreds of years old – and court decisions, collectively known as “case law”.

Despite the publishing of a Model Penal Code in 1962 by the American Law Institute, the criminal provisions of various states within the USA often conflict. The typical American can’t hope to get acquainted with even a negligible fraction of his country’s fiendishly complex and hopelessly brobdignagian criminal code. Such inevitable ignorance breeds criminal behaviour – sometimes inadvertently – and transforms many upright citizens into delinquents.

In the land of the free – the USA – close to 2 million adults are behind bars and another 4.5 million are on probation, most of them on drug charges. The costs of criminalization – both financial and social – are mind boggling. According to “The Economist”, America’s prison system cost it $54 billion a year – disregarding the price tag of law enforcement, the judiciary, lost product, and rehabilitation.

What constitutes a crime? A clear and consistent definition has yet to transpire.

There are five types of criminal behaviour: crimes against oneself, or “victimless crimes” (such as suicide, abortion, and the consumption of drugs), crimes against others (such as murder or mugging), crimes among consenting adults (such as incest, and in certain countries, homosexuality and euthanasia), crimes against collectives (such as treason, genocide, or ethnic cleansing), and crimes against the international community and world order (such as executing prisoners of war). The last two categories often overlap.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica provides this definition of a crime: “The intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under the criminal law.”

But who decides what is socially harmful? What about acts committed unintentionally (known as “strict liability offences” in the parlance)? How can we establish intention – “mens rea”, or the “guilty mind” – beyond a reasonable doubt?

A much tighter definition would be: “The commission of an act punishable under the criminal law.” A crime is what the law – state law, kinship law, religious law, or any other widely accepted law – says is a crime. Legal systems and texts often conflict.

Murderous blood feuds are legitimate according to the 15th century “Qanoon”, still applicable in large parts of Albania. Killing one’s infant daughters and old relatives is socially condoned – though illegal – in India, China, Alaska, and parts of Africa. Genocide may have been legally sanctioned in Germany and Rwanda – but is strictly forbidden under international law.

Laws being the outcomes of compromises and power plays, there is only a tenuous connection between justice and morality. Some “crimes” are categorical imperatives. Helping the Jews in Nazi Germany was a criminal act – yet a highly moral one.

The ethical nature of some crimes depends on circumstances, timing, and cultural context. Murder is a vile deed – but assassinating Saddam Hussein may be morally commendable. Killing an embryo is a crime in some countries – but not so killing a fetus. A “status offence” is not a criminal act if committed by an adult. Mutilating the body of a live baby is heinous – but this is the essence of Jewish circumcision. In some societies, criminal guilt is collective. All Americans are held blameworthy by the Arab street for the choices and actions of their leaders. All Jews are accomplices in the “crimes” of the “Zionists”.

In all societies, crime is a growth industry. Millions of professionals – judges, police officers, criminologists, psychologists, journalists, publishers, prosecutors, lawyers, social workers, probation officers, wardens, sociologists, non-governmental-organizations, weapons manufacturers, laboratory technicians, graphologists, and private detectives – derive their livelihood, parasitically, from crime. They often perpetuate models of punishment and retribution that lead to recidivism rather than to to the reintegration of criminals in society and their rehabilitation.

Organized in vocal interest groups and lobbies, they harp on the insecurities and phobias of the alienated urbanites. They consume ever growing budgets and rejoice with every new behaviour criminalized by exasperated lawmakers. In the majority of countries, the justice system is a dismal failure and law enforcement agencies are part of the problem, not its solution.

The sad truth is that many types of crime are considered by people to be normative and common behaviours and, thus, go unreported. Victim surveys and self-report studies conducted by criminologists reveal that most crimes go unreported. The protracted fad of criminalization has rendered criminal many perfectly acceptable and recurring behaviours and acts. Homosexuality, abortion, gambling, prostitution, pornography, and suicide have all been criminal offences at one time or another.

But the quintessential example of over-criminalization is drug abuse.

There is scant medical evidence that soft drugs such as cannabis or MDMA (“Ecstasy”) – and even cocaine – have an irreversible effect on brain chemistry or functioning. Last month an almighty row erupted in Britain when Jon Cole, an addiction researcher at Liverpool University, claimed, to quote “The Economist” quoting the “Psychologist”, that:

“Experimental evidence suggesting a link between Ecstasy use and problems such as nerve damage and brain impairment is flawed … using this ill-substantiated cause-and-effect to tell the ‘chemical generation’ that they are brain damaged when they are not creates public health problems of its own.”

Moreover, it is commonly accepted that alcohol abuse and nicotine abuse can be at least as harmful as the abuse of marijuana, for instance. Yet, though somewhat curbed, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are legal. In contrast, users of cocaine – only a century ago recommended by doctors as tranquilizer – face life in jail in many countries, death in others. Almost everywhere pot smokers are confronted with prison terms.

The “war on drugs” – one of the most expensive and protracted in history – has failed abysmally. Drugs are more abundant and cheaper than ever. The social costs have been staggering: the emergence of violent crime where none existed before, the destabilization of drug-producing countries, the collusion of drug traffickers with terrorists, and the death of millions – law enforcement agents, criminals, and users.

Few doubt that legalizing most drugs would have a beneficial effect. Crime empires would crumble overnight, users would be assured of the quality of the products they consume, and the addicted few would not be incarcerated or stigmatized – but rather treated and rehabilitated.

That soft, largely harmless, drugs continue to be illicit is the outcome of compounded political and economic pressures by lobby and interest groups of manufacturers of legal drugs, law enforcement agencies, the judicial system, and the aforementioned long list of those who benefit from the status quo.

Only a popular movement can lead to the decriminalization of the more innocuous drugs. But such a crusade should be part of a larger campaign to reverse the overall tide of criminalization. Many “crimes” should revert to their erstwhile status as civil torts. Others should be wiped off the statute books altogether. Hundreds of thousands should be pardoned and allowed to reintegrate in society, unencumbered by a past of transgressions against an inane and inflationary penal code.

This, admittedly, will reduce the leverage the state has today against its citizens and its ability to intrude on their lives, preferences, privacy, and leisure. Bureaucrats and politicians may find this abhorrent. Freedom loving people should rejoice.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101 .

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.

Visit Sam’s Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com

palma@unet.com.mk

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Understanding White Collar Crimes?

White collar crimes are perhaps the most commonly committed crimes that happen today. And just like any type of crime, white collar crimes come with punishments. Sure, the punishment may not be as harsh as robbing a bank or committing a murder, but the punishments can be quite harsh on a person’s wallet and, yes, there are individuals who do spend time behind bars. Take Martha Steward, for example. She was found committing what can be considered a white collar crime and she ended up serving time for what she did.

But what exactly are white collar crimes? Many individuals wonder what the difference between a white collar crime and other types of crimes. Some don’t think there is a difference at all. The truth is that there is a difference.

What is it?

A white collar crime is a very intricate crime. A white collar crime is a crime committed by a person while working within their occupation. In other words, it is a crime that involves the work that a person is doing. For example, individuals may embezzle money out of the business. This is considered a white collar crime. A cashier may be found dipping into the register. They may just be fired for this crime or the company may decide to take criminal action against them.

One of the most common white collar crimes is bankruptcy fraud. This is where an individual may not report all of their assets when filing bankruptcy. A company may also commit the same crime. This is considered fraud because it is possible to receive money back from the creditors in order to assist in getting back on your feet. If assets are not considered and this money is received, then that can be considered stealing. This is something that seems to be occurring every single day.

Computer crime is also a growing white collar crime. Computer crime can range anywhere from identity theft to insider trading. If it involves a computer that is being used to access the Internet and commit a crime, then it is considered a white collar crime. This is something that poses a very stiff penalty. There are individuals serving prison time for computer crimes and they are serving rather long sentences.

The punishments

Many of the punishments are done in the way of paying high fines for the crimes committed, but it really depends on the crime that has been committed. It is almost inevitable that someone who goes to prison has to pay exorbitant fines as well. This is so they can compensate the individuals they have hurt through their white collar crimes. Some people are so rich that this doesn’t hurt them and they have no trouble getting back on their feet when it is all said and done. But there are other individuals who are not so lucky.

So if you ever hear the term “white collar crime,” you now know what it is. It is a very intricate crime. Usually, a person has to do a lot of scheming and planning when it comes to committing these crimes. Being that they are usually committed in the workplace, they have to find ways to get around tight systems and the eyes of everyone they work with. But the truth is that these individuals are frequently caught. Hardly anyone gets away with dipping into funds or doing other things that result in financial gain for them. The evidence is usually so extravagant that it is hard to get away with one of these crimes. Many systems that businesses implement are simply too advanced to be manipulated for long.

Criminal Lawyer Fort Lauderdale specializes in white collar crime, sex crimes, domestic violence, drug crimes and motor vehicle related crimes in Fort Lauderdale. Lyons Snyder.

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Steps to Take When Charged With a Crime

If one is charged with a crime, the criminal justice system can be a very scary and complicated system. There are a variety of parties involved with a criminal case such as defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to know what steps to take to ensure that your rights are protected.

1. If you are charged with a crime and find yourself sitting in jail, the first step to do is get a bail bondsmen to bail you out of jail. Once you are no longer in jail, you will have the ability to effectively deal with the criminal charges. It is important not to speak to the authorities until you have retained an attorney because any information you give can be used against you in trial.

2. Once you have been released from jail, you need to find a high-quality attorney to represent you. It is never recommended to represent your self in a criminal trial. A defense attorney will know all of the ‘ins and outs’ of the legal system as well as the legal process. The lawyer you choose will be one that can effectively convey your side of the case, and will be involved in communicating with the prosecutor, witnesses, expert witnesses, and gathering evidence and preparing the case for the criminal trial. Ask the attorney if he or she was once a criminal a prosecutor. A former criminal prosecutor will know exactly how the prosecution of the case will unfold. The attorney should have experience in criminal law.

3. Once you have located a defense attorney, call and make an appointment. You will normally have a consultation appointment that is often free. There you will discuss your case and present your side. It is important that you ask the attorney questions about their knowledge and experience in criminal law as well as your particular case.

If you cannot afford an attorney, you are entitled to a legal aid lawyer. When you apply to Legal Aid, you must provide financial information so they can determine whether you are eligible for aid.

4. Not every criminal case goes to trial. It may not be in your best interest to go to trial. In this case, you should have a defense Lawyer that can negotiate a plea. The attorney will be able to explain your options and work on your behalf to get the best plea deal.

5. Trial can be a complicated process. If you go to trial, the defense lawyer will be responsible for gathering all evidence that includes the prosecution’s witness list, prosecution’s evidence, your witnesses, expert witnesses…etc. Your attorney will also prepare for the case, prepare your witnesses, and present the case. It is important to have a criminal defense attorney with wide-ranging experience trying cases in front of a jury.

The most important step one should take when charged with a criminal act is to hire an experienced defense attorney. An attorney will guide you through an often complex criminal process.

Be sure to get yourself a trustworthy Criminal Lawyer Ft. Lauderdale for fighting criminal cases in the state of Florida. Criminal Attorney Ft. Lauderdale are adept in defending clients charged with diverse crimes.

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Drug Crimes – A Growing Problem For Our Youth

It used to be that the adult world was the only one affected by drug crimes. That is no longer the case as children as young as elementary school age are now being caught selling and abusing drugs. The following article will take a closer look at what is happening with the younger generation and drugs.

Pretty much everyone, at one time or another during their youth, was told by a parent the dangers of accepting candy from people we did not know. We can now appreciate that our parents were trying to protect us from unknowingly taking drugs or getting involved in crimes related to drugs. Today we cannot be so subliminal about it with our children. We have no choice but to talk to our children directly about drugs. There is no room for beating around the bush.

Our parents were mainly worried about us getting drugs from questionable adults. However, in this day and age, kids are providing them to others kids right at school. This makes it very important for us to educate our own children about drugs and what is acceptable and not acceptable. The “don’t take candy from strangers” approach is no longer effective when trying to prevent drug abuse and crime.

We all know about how bad influences can directly affect a kid’s life. This is why it is so important for us to know who our children’s friends are. This will not guarantee that our children will not fall victims to the growing rate of drug crimes in schools. However, it can help decrease the chances of it happening.

Many kids in this day and age are getting drugs from the medicine cabinets in their home to sell or distribute at school. Yes, you read that right. It is important for you to monitor any medication you may be taking. Do not hesitate to count the pills left in the bottle and keep counting them. Keep all medication out of easy access of your kids. Even if you do not believe your child would take your pills, it is best to keep them under lock and key.

If your child has access to the internet, you should track his online activity closely. There is software available you can install on your child’s computer that will log each keystroke he makes. Everything he types can be sent to your email address.

Lastly, if you stay active in knowing what is going on in the lives of your children, you will greatly reduce the chances that will be become involved in drug crimes of any kind. Keep in regular contact with their educators and their friends’s parents. If things seem amiss, they probably are. Discovering issues quickly can help to decrease any chances of drug trouble your kids may become afflicted with.

In a perfect world we would not have to worry about drug crimes when it comes to our kids. This is not a perfect world, though, and knowledge is the best way to help your children. Stay informed.

LSLG Fort Lauderdale has years of experiences in the legal system, guaranteeing you the best possible outcomes. Do not underestimate the importance of hiring a criminal attorney Fort Lauderdale, don’t fight the accusation battle alone.

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Drug Crimes Are Not Only a Grown-Up Problem Anymore

There was once a time when drug crimes mainly affected grown folks, and people did not have to worry so much for their kids. But as the years have passed, crimes involving drugs are including younger and younger age groups. The following paragraphs will provide some useful advice regarding keeping your kids safe.

When we were children, our parents used to warn of us such dangers as talking to a stranger. When they sent us to school, they did not have to worry so much about us doing drugs or committing crimes. However, kids are now selling drugs at school, or in some cases even giving them away for free. It is not only the adults anymore, it is now the kids, as well.

The schools are now common places for kids to get and experiment with drugs. While schools have zero tolerance policies for this type of behavior, it still occurs. It is no longer safe to stop with telling your kids not to talk to strangers. It is important to be direct with them when you explain the dangers associated with drugs.

The company your child keeps can increase or reduce their chances of getting caught up drugs. It is important to get to know who your kids hang out with and what they are doing. Do not be afraid to seem intrusive. It is not about being best friends with your kids, it is about being a good parent. Picking your children’s friends is not a fool-proof way to ensure they will not get involved in drugs at school. However, it can reduce the chances.

If you take prescription medication, you should watch it closely. Hide it where your child would never think to look if you have to. More and more kids are stealing their parents prescription pills to give or sell to their friends. When it is in the medicine cabinet, kids have easy access to it. If you have to, count your pills and write down how many you take.

Watch what your child does on the internet. Use parental control settings to help monitor what they have access to. Forbid chat rooms or constant instant chatting, or watch conversations closely. Read their email and text messages on a regular basis. A nosy parent is an informed parent. Being nosy often helps parents see the warning signs before their kids get in too deep to get out.

Finally, being an active part of all aspects of your child’s life can significantly decrease the chances of your child becoming involved with drugs. Attend extra curricular activities with your children, and communicate regularly with their educators. This will help you discover any potential problem early and reduce the likelihood of your child committing drug crimes.

When we were growing up, drug crimes did not happen so much at school. It was mainly an adult problem, that mostly adults faced. Times have changed and now our children are affected. By following the tips and advice given above, you can help prevent it from affecting your child.

If you need someone to help defend you against drug crime charges, then consider having criminal lawyer LyonsSnyder by your side. Defending clients in Florida is what LSLG in Fort Lauderdale specializes in.

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