What gets prosecuted

Next time someone says they are OK with the NSA spying because they are “keeping us safe” and “if you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear” or some such fantasy, here’s something to consider. According to this, the most commonly crime prosecuted in the former East Germany in the five years before the unification was failure to report a crime you knew about. When the state knows everything, then NOT being a rat becomes more dangerous than being a criminal giving the police a cut of the action for protection, because you have no leverage. That thought should terrify folks when they realize what it really means.

(BTW – I think the Judge likely believes what he says when he reports that, but I do not have an independent verification of his reported fact- anyone know for sure the stats on that? Even if it’s not the number one “crime,” if it’s anywhere in the top hundred it is bad.)

(Later Edit: How big a step is it from “see something, say something” to “see something, you are required to say something” with some sort of nebulous protections that may, or may not, protect you if you do say something?)

14 thoughts on “What gets prosecuted

  1. Interpret that to mean knowing of the facts that constitute the crime (whether or not you know it is a crime this year or not, and combine that with the “three felonies each day” rule, and there isn’t a law-abiding person who won’t get caught in the constructive knowledge trap.
    “You should have known that was a crime, and you know you have a duty to report all crimes.”

    • Exactly. And that means that not only are you a criminal, they can prove it in court. And, according to that (twisted) letter of the law, you are. But, because it serves no purpose to prosecute you at random, they can wait until it’s useful (to them) to do so. Anyone that’s not terrified of that concept is either a high-end politician planning on using it, or they don’t understand it.

    • “You should have known that was a crime, and you know you have a duty to report all crimes.”

      Unless those crimes are committed by the state, in which case they will prosecute you.

  2. Well, no. At common law there is no duty to report a crime. The closest we get to legally mandated rathood is exemplified by 18 USC §3: “Whoever, knowing that an offense against the United States has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact.” This is a far cry from “failure to report a crime you knew about”.

    • That is the current law. But it’s a very short, bad judicial interpretation or law geting passed that makes failure to report “obstruction of justice.” You might think that’s a stretch – so would I. But I didn’t think ObamaCare was constitutional, but look at the contortions the court did to uphold THAT. Or the (in)famous wickard vs filburn. The thing that creeps me out is that this sort of data-collection makes us one law away (“the bombers killed X number, we have to DO something, and do it NOW!”) from enabling that sort of thing on an “as-needed” basis. I’m not worried about laws they pass that they have no way of enforcing. But an enforcement mechanism like this is just looking for the “right” law to get passed.

  3. Future laws are no concern for present actions, per Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3, of the United States Constitution. As for Justice Roberts’ ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius, 567, his reading of the Commerce Clause as forbidding the Congress to require its constituents to purchase broccoli is the biggest development in Anti-Federalism since 1787.

    • A prohibition on ex post facto means they cannot prosecute you for past things, but if you have the infrastructure in place to capture everything, then one small legal change and everything going forward from that point could be. The potential for abuse here is far greater than the potential safety it offers. While I agree that if the SCOTUS was going to hold the ACA as constitutional they did it in the best possible way, the fact is they DID hold it constitutional when they could have (should have, IMHO) tossed it based on the FedGov’s own argument. If it gets struck down via some other case, it just means we’ll have wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and a of time – if it’s upheld long-term, it will cause HUGE problems that are only just barely starting.

        • I sincerely hope you are right. I really do. But historically, bureaucracies take on a life of their own, and exist for the purpose of extending themselves, and I fear we are to that point where things are going to have to break badly before they will be fixed. Maybe this is the final spike in FedGov power before the great pull-back… but governments never shrink willingly, or nicely. That is why we say a government will “collapses,” not “gracefully evolve smaller.”
          I hope I’m wrong, and I really hope American is even more resilient than I think it is, but historical president is not favorable. Look at ALL great empires – Persian, Roman, British, Byzantine, Ottoman. They staggered on long after they lost their dynamism, because entrenched bureaucracies kept doing their thing, because that is what they did. Pure inertia.

          • All but one of your imperial examples are distinguishable from ours by the lack of separation of powers. The British empire collapsed owing to colonial overstretch, the very opposite of our ongoing issues with a want of commitment to client states.

          • Perhaps. I hope so. But I see the separation of powers, while formally still existing, eroding rapidly. The three branches bicker, but do not really act as a serious check on the others, sort of tacitly “I’ll allow your expansion if you allow mine.” The various agencies have become partisan, and the media “watchdogs” anything BUT non-partisan. Large swaths of government exist to do nothing but tell people “NO.” Every time they do that, and there is no identifiably hurt, freedom diminishes. I have to pay taxes, to fund the schools, but I have no say in the curriculum, because the district adopts things according to state incentives, and the state adopts things because of federal incentives, and THAT is driven by lobbying while being paid for by MY taxes.
            Case in point – they laud the “common core standards” for K-12. Part of the LA (Language Arts) sectiont is that at least half the text must be “informational” as opposed to “literature.” What defines a culture? Its stories. If you suddenly take away half the stories a kid would normally learn in school, and replace them with dry, sanitized “factual” texts, you just nuked about half the culture they would get, and it’ll get filled with whatever is available – thug, drug, pop, hook-up, or whatever culture is around. (hmmmm – that’s really a whole ‘nuther post topic in itself)
            The US, its states and cities, are rotting because one one simple reason, the same one ALL empires die from – utter economic stupidity. Debt. Doing things that are OBVIOUSLY not sustainable, because it is politically palatable in the short term, rather than making the hard choices, and educating the people properly about the choices that must be made. Deficit spending means borrowing tomorrows wealth to spend today supporting bureaucracies that do not deliver their promised services or solutions at a reasonable price.

    • “Future laws are no concern for present actions…”

      Kind of beside the point and not really any protection from the threat Rolf points out. Consider: on the 1st you observe, or otherwise come to know of, a crime. You don’t report it but you are “safe” because there is no “requirement” to report it. On the 3rd, “they” make it a crime to not report crimes of which you have knowledge. You still don’t report it, thinking you are still “safe” because the crime happened before the new law was passed. But you are not safe and they prosecute you on the 5th. The ex post facto clause isn’t going to help: you are *not* being prosecuted for failing to report it on the 2nd, you are being prosecuted for not reporting it on the *4th*.
      If you don’t think such a scenario would be upheld, I’ll only point out it is *exactly* the same logic that gets people with a felony or domestic violence conviction prosecuted for possessing a firearm even though the conviction occurred prior the the law prohibiting firearm possession.

      • To date, circuit courts and district courts have found that the Lautenberg Amendment does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause, in so far as it regulates the continuous possession of a firearm by a domestic violence misdemeanant, falling short of punishing him a second time for a prior domestic violence conviction. In other words, your timeline is plausible, which is more than I can say for the expectation of criminalizing failure to report a crime, going against the grain of the common law tradition.

  4. The California Gun-Grabbers are onto this interpretation. Under the rubric of “safe-storage” laws they want to criminalize the fact that YOU got robbed and DIDN’T report it, where your guns are concerned.

Comments are closed.