Monday, July 17, 2006

Sometimes it's a crime, sometimes it's not

A legal blog on immigration recently published a copy of an email he got from a reader that I think demonstrates a very common misunderstanind of your legal system. And it's a misunderstanding that does color the debate on immigration policy.

Just because you violate a law doesn't mean you've committed a crime. Most laws are not criminal laws. Criminal codes are a very seperate part of the lawbook. They are special because the penalty for violation of criminal laws carries special penalty. You don't go to prison for violating a law, you go to prison for violating a criminal law.

You don't got to prison for running a stop sign. It's not a crime. If you don't pay the fine you might go to prison. But the crime is failure to pay, not failure to stop.

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