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Overcriminalization

"Overcriminalization" describes the trends in America - and particulary in Congress - to use the criminal law to "solve" every problem, punish every mistake (instead of making proper use of civil penalties), and coerce Americans into conforming their behavior to satisfy social engineering objectives.

HR 6544: A bill to amend Title 18, United States Code, to provide for the protection of the general public, and for other purposes.

Official Title

To amend Title 18, United States Code, to provide for the protection of the general public, and for other purposes.

Analysis

This extremely broad bill would amend Title 18 of the U.S. code to subject any “business entity” or “product supervisor with respect to a product or business practice” to criminal sanctions for failure to inform or warn about a “serious danger” associated with any product, component of a product, or business practice. Any entity or supervisor who “knowingly” fails to warn (within 15 days of discovery of the dangerous product or practice) an appropriate federal agency, affected employees, or others who can “reasonably be identified” as at risk of harm would be subject to criminal sanctions of up to 5 years imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. The bill would also criminalize retaliation against whistleblowers who warn a federal agency or any employee about a dangerous product or business practice, subjecting violators to criminal sanctions of up to 1 year imprisonment, fines under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. The language of H.R. 6544 neither defines “dangerous” nor the mens rea term “knowingly” for the purposes of the statute, thus extending the reach of the bill to wide swaths of potentially legitimate and non-blameworthy conduct.

Legislation Details
SPONSOR

Conyers (D - MI)

STATUS:

12/17/2010: Referred to House Judiciary Committee
12/17/2010: Introduced in House