by John G. Malcolm
The Heritage Foundation
August 06, 2014
Unlike malum in se offenses, most criminal regulations do not prohibit morally indefensible conduct. Regulations allow conduct, but they circumscribe—often in ways that are very hard for the non-expert to understand—when, where, how, how often, and by whom certain conduct can be done. Most people are unaware that they are exposed to potential criminal liability for engaging in routine activities as part of their everyday lives. For many people and small entities that cannot afford high-priced lawyers, these laws are largely inaccessible and incomprehensible, which raises serious concerns of notice and fair warning. Nobody should find himself at risk of imprisonment merely because he cannot afford a lawyer to decipher unduly complex laws and regulations.

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