by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
Americans for Tax Reform recently released an article on criminal recodification featuring JLF’s Mike Schietzelt. The article reads:
It’s common sense, and important for the integrity of the criminal justice system, that people are not put away because there are too many laws that are vague or impossible for the average person to be aware of. Even more concerning for conservatives, the state bureaucracy can create new rules and regulations and make violating them a crime.
The article points to a bill going through the General Assembly, SB 584, as a potential solution to some of these issues. According to the article:
The legislation stops new local laws from automatically being classified as criminal. It requires the legislature to review any new regulatory rules where a violation results in criminal penalties. And it requires that any new criminal laws be properly codified, if they are not, a defendant can use a “mistake of law” defense.
The article then quotes JLF Criminal Justice Fellow, Mike Schietzelt:
“The practical effect of this provision is to ensure no new crimes are ‘hidden’ in obscure corners of the General Statutes. By centralizing the location of new crimes, SB 584 provides better notice to the public of new crimes and allows for easier supervision of the growth of the criminal code.”
ATR notes that, while this bill alone will not solve North Carolina’s issues with our criminal code, it will stop the problem from getting worse – which is the first step towards the ultimate goal of recodification.