• Heritage Action
  • Heritage Libertad
  • More
Return to Rule of Law Initiative

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 1793: Clean Up Government Act of 2011

Official Title

A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to deter public corruption, and for other purposes.

Analysis

This bill would make myriad changes to Title 18 of the U.S. Code to expand the scope of a number of federal criminal laws targeting fraud, theft, bribery, embezzlement, racketeering, and other forms of so-called public corruption. H.R. 1793 would also increase the criminal penalties for certain public corruption offenses, expand the federal venue provisions for a wide range of federal offenses (including perjury and obstruction of justice), and broaden the applicability of the federal wiretap authorization statute. Specifically, the provisions of the bill make the following changes to Title 18 of the U.S. Code: (1) expand the scope of the federal mail and wire fraud statutes (18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1343) to cover “money, property, or anything of value” and clarify that the theft and bribery provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 666(c) also apply to the same; (2) expand the predicate offenses available for the charging of RICO violations under 18 U.S.C. § 1961 and greatly expand the scope of the federal honest services fraud statute (18 U.S.C. § 1346A) to cover a broad range of “undisclosed self-dealing” by local, state, and federal government officials; (3) broaden the definition of an “official act” under the illegal gratuities portion of the bribery statute (18 U.S.C. § 201(c)(1)) and modify its language to prohibit gratuities given because of an “official’s or person’s official position or any official act” and not solely because of “any official act”; (4) broaden the scope of the federal venue provision (18 U.S.C. § 3237(a)) to allow for proper venue in “any district in which an act in furtherance of an offense is committed” and specifically widen the scope of the federal venue provision for perjury and obstruction of justice prosecutions (see 18 U.S.C. § 1512(i)); and (5) increase the maximum criminal penalties for a handful of public-corruption offenses. H.R. 1793 would specifically increase the maximum criminal penalty for “theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal financial assistance” (18 U.S.C. § 666(a)) from 10 years imprisonment to 20 years imprisonment, increase the maximum criminal penalty for the embezzlement, theft, purloining, or conversion or public money, property, or records (18 U.S.C. § 641) from 10 years imprisonment to 20 years imprisonment, and increase the maximum criminal penalty for bribery and graft (18 U.S.C. § 201) from 15 years imprisonment to 20 years imprisonment in cases involving a specific intent to influence (and from two years imprisonment to five years imprisonment in cases not involving such intent). The bill would also increase the maximum criminal penalties for federal statutes prohibiting the solicitation and acceptance of certain political contributions (see 18 U.S.C. §§ 602(a)(4), 600, 601(a), 606, 607(a)(2), and 610) and double the statute of limitations from 5 years to 10 years for a variety of public corruption offenses.

Legislation Details
SPONSOR

Sensenbrenner (R - WI)

STATUS:

05/23/2011: Referred to House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security
05/05/2011: Referred to House Judiciary Committee