Yah, tens of thousands of laws, and it’s our problem if we don’t know them all.
I think you have the right idea. The Economist had a story a while back called “Rough Justice in America” where they noted that there are over 4,000 federal crimes, and so many regulations from various agencies that the Congressional Research Service actually gave up on counting them. When the government agency that is in charge of digging up information for Congress can’t tell a Representative how many crimes are on the federal books, there are too many laws to expect normal people to be able to keep track of them all. What’s the answer? I have no idea, short of a constitutional convention and a clean slate of laws. Until that day, ignorance may not be an excuse, but it darn well should be.
The worst part is, if the cops make a mistake about the law and arrest you as a result, ignorance *is* an excuse for them! That’s just nuts! The professionals don’t have any duty to know what they’re doing, but the rest of us do!
Is a mistaken arrest actually a crime that requires a legal defense?
Is there anything to prevent someone from being sentenced to, say, 100 years for possessing 200 feathers. Surely that would fall under cruel and unusual punishment or something, right?
I’ve read up on that issue before, and (please correct me if I’m wrong!) the idea is that if a single conviction’s sentence is reasonable, then any number of counts of that conviction are therefore also considered reasonable.
So, does all this lead up to the “That law’s just fucking stupid” defense?
Oh, how much better would life be if that was a real defense.
That defense does exist in real life. In the U.S. we call it the “unconstitutionality” defense. It is usually brought up under the “equal protection” clause of the 14th amendment to the United States constitution. I am pretty sure that most first-world countries have something similar.
Unfortunately, that turns out to be a very narrow interpretation of “just fucking stupid” in practice.
Couldn’t it also be done by jury nullification?
Is this a real law?
“Its a crime because the law says so.” So is State a legal positivist?
I still don’t understand why the US crime system can just add up multiple sentences and get more than 100 years for misdemeanors.
In Europe, if you commit multiple crimes at once, the maximum sentence is just the maximum sentence of the most serious crime you committed. Of course committing multiple crimes will push you more to the maximum sentence, but you won’t get more than that.