"Might Crimes" vs. "Real Crimes." What are your thoughts on the former?


PDA






Molon Labe
June 10, 2004, 11:47 AM
When it comes to crime and punishment, I’ve always believed the following progression was the "rule":

1. A person commits a real crime, wherein the person infringed on someone else’s right to life, liberty, property, and/or pursuit of happiness.

2. Afterwards the person is punished for the crime.

Makes sense to me.

But it is my opinion society is not longer content on punishing someone after-the-fact for committing a real crime. Today we have might-crimes, also known as "pre-crimes." A might-crime is a "crime" wherein someone believes you might commit a real crime. Furthermore, depriving someone of life, liberty, property, and/or pursuit of happiness is not a prerequisite for a conviction; indeed, you can be arrested and convicted of a might-crime without depriving anyone of any rights.

One example of a might-crime is owning an unregistered full-auto weapon. I can only presume it's illegal because the government believes you might commit a crime with it. Furthermore, mere possession of such a rifle does not deprive anyone else of life, liberty, property, and/or pursuit of happiness, yet this matters not; you can still be arrested and convicted.

But it's not all black and white. Case in point: drunk driving. If I am pulled over and blow >0.08%, I will be arrested. Why? Because I might hurt someone, even though I had not hurt anyone up to that point, nor denied anyone else their inalienable rights. Like the full-auto example, this is obviously a might-crime, yet we all seem to agree that that it’s reasonable and warranted.

There are countless other examples of might-crimes. Just wondering what your thoughts were.

If you enjoyed reading about ""Might Crimes" vs. "Real Crimes." What are your thoughts on the former?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
braindead0
June 10, 2004, 12:24 PM
Next is thought crime.. oh.. we already have that....

BigG
June 10, 2004, 12:32 PM
Die Gedanken sind frei. Many malum prohibitum "crimes" are revenoo producers, imho.

cropcirclewalker
June 10, 2004, 12:41 PM
Once we start to agree that a particular "Might Crime" is OK to prosecute, then we have lost the concept of prior restraint and it follows by increments that the govt. can protect us from the potential of harm by another.

To incrementalize it all the way out. It would therefore, be alright to prosecute for "thinking" about committing a "Might Crime"

MADD has succeeded in incrementally lowering blood alcohol to .08 and no doubt it follow that .07 will be a crime because the offender "Might" have another drink.

There is no end to it. We have been sucked into the vortex of the nanny state.. :( :(

R.H. Lee
June 10, 2004, 12:42 PM
But it's not all black and white. Case in point: drunk driving. If I am pulled over and blow >0.08%, I will be arrested. Why? Because I might hurt someone, even though I had not hurt anyone up to that point, nor denied anyone else their inalienable rights

Can't go along with you on this one. There is a MINIMUM threshhold of mental and physical dexterity required to competently operate a motor vehicle. You demonstrated that threshhold when you took your driving test and qualified for a license. It is your responsibility to MAINTAIN that level of competence while exercising the privilege to operate a motor vehicle upon public highways. If you are impaired, unable to walk a straight line, stand on one foot looking up and touch your nose with your eyes closed, you are judged to be of "dimished capacity" and should be removed from the highway. The fact that you have not yet done bodily injury or property damage may seem pre emptive, but most reasonable persons would believe it reasonable to prevent same.

I don't see the analogy between drunk driving and posession of a fully automatic weapon, so I fully agree with you that arrest for mere possession of a machine gun (barring other evidence of criminal intent) is excessive.

TallPine
June 10, 2004, 12:46 PM
Drunk driving might be more closely compared to firing your full-auto wantonly across a busy street. Maybe you haven't hit anybody yet, but .....

A real "might" crime would be if you got arrested for drinking in a bar because you might drive home.

At the same time, I can't understand how fatal accidents caused by drivers with 0.20-0.25 blood alcohol warrants lowering the legal limit from 0.10 to 0.08 - like we have a whole bunch of accidents caused by folks driving at 0.09 :rolleyes:

Traffic regulations are a little different than other laws, because they are basically just a set of rules to help us all use the same roadways without bashing into each other too often.

The alternative is much more serious consequences for causing an accident - a "real" crime. But it is the traffic rules themselves that help determine who is at fault, so there you go again .....

Molon Labe
June 10, 2004, 01:05 PM
RileyMc: We are in agreement in that we both believe “driving under the influence” is a valid might-crime. But why is it valid? Two reasons: a) Driving is a privilege, not a right, and b) There’s a very strong correlation between DUI and accidents.

So it would appear we have valid and invalid might-crimes.

I don’t have any unregistered full-auto weapons. But if I did, and was arrested for their possession, I believe my courtroom defense would go like this:

Judge: Molon Labe, you have been charged with possessing unregistered full-auto weapons. How do you plead?

Me: While I did possess such weapons, I am going to please “not guilty.”

Prosecutor: The law is black and white, Molon Labe. Here’s NFA ‘34. What you did is a crime.

Me: What I did was certainly illegal. But not unlawful. And not a real crime. It was a might-crime.

Prosecutor: Huh?

Me: Indeed, I was in possession of unregistered full-auto weapons. You say it’s a “crime.” I can only assume, then, that my possession of these weapons denied someone else their right to life, liberty, property, and/or pursuit of happiness. Can you please tell me who this person is?

Prosecutor: Huh? I’m not saying you denied anyone their rights. But what you did was most definitely a crime according to NFA 34.

Me: So you admit I did not infringe upon anyone’s right to life, liberty, property, and/or pursuit of happiness?

Prosecutor: Um, well, yes.

Me: Then by definition I did nothing unlawful.

At this point, I can only hope the jury is giving the evil eye to the prosecutor.

cropcirclewalker
June 10, 2004, 01:34 PM
RileyMc said: Can't go along with you on this one. There is a MINIMUM threshhold of mental and physical dexterity required to competently operate a motor vehicle. You demonstrated that threshhold when you took your driving test and qualified for a license. It is your responsibility to MAINTAIN that level of competence while exercising the privilege to operate a motor vehicle upon public highways.

Thus I can see old people prohibited from driving. Like a guy said to Archie on "All in the Family" as he got dragged back to the old folks home, "Don't ever get old."

Thus, I see soccer moms, the young, the preoccupied and the dipsy prohibited.

There are some completley sober people who drive more impaired than a healthy competent adult with a BAC of .09.

You have seen them.........Just able to see over the wheel with their coke bottle glasses and puttering along at 35 mph. Turn signal on for miles and miles. Talking on the phone, putting on makeup, chastising an errant child, reading a map, eating a whopper with a cupa coffee between their legs. Bopping out to a good ol' country rocker.

Like I said, we're sucked in going round and round and slowly slipping serrupticiously and silently into the sewer of the nanny state.:(

R.H. Lee
June 10, 2004, 01:53 PM
There are some completley sober people who drive more impaired than a healthy competent adult with a BAC of .09.

You have seen them.........Just able to see over the wheel with their coke bottle glasses and puttering along at 35 mph. Turn signal on for miles and miles. Talking on the phone, putting on makeup, chastising an errant child, reading a map, eating a whopper with a cupa coffee between their legs. Bopping out to a good ol' country rocker

Or the completely healthy-sober-self-important-weighlifting jock talking on a cellphone deciding at the last second he's too busy to stop for the red light and plows a two ton SUV through an intersection t-boning a car legally crossing on the green light. The world is full of all kinds of a-holes.

The single biggest responsibility most people have is the manner in which they drive. Drivers licenses are too easy to get and too hard to lose IMO.
A preventable "accident" with an autombile is like a preventable "accident" with a firearm-you only get one chance not to regret it for the rest of your life after having done irreparable damage that cannot be undone with any amount of $$.

The encroaching nanny state is a result of people's stupidity. There ought to be a law against stupid people.

Who's that comedian who says "here's your sign.........."?

FPrice
June 10, 2004, 02:14 PM
There is no such thing as a "might crime". You have either committed a crime or you have not.

There are all sorts of things that "might" happen. And some of them are crimes to be sure. But until you take steps to put that uncertain future into effect, all it is is a future possibility.

Molon Labe
June 10, 2004, 02:22 PM
There is no such thing as a "might crime". You have either committed a crime or you have not.

There are all sorts of things that "might" happen. And some of them are crimes to be sure. But until you take steps to put that uncertain future into effect, all it is is a future possibility.

I used to agree with you 100%. But the DUI thing became a dilemma for me. It is certainly a might-crime. But valid, none-the-less? :confused:

I dunno. It wouldn’t take much to convince me that driving impaired is O.K. Seriously. After all, I think I’m a better driver drunk than most people are sober...

R.H. Lee
June 10, 2004, 02:41 PM
Seriously. After all, I think I’m a better driver drunk than most people are sober...

And they say alcohol affects judgement. :rolleyes:

cordex
June 10, 2004, 03:18 PM
There is a MINIMUM threshhold of mental and physical dexterity required to competently operate a motor vehicle. You demonstrated that threshhold when you took your driving test and qualified for a license. It is your responsibility to MAINTAIN that level of competence while exercising the privilege to operate a motor vehicle upon public highways.
Just to scope out your position a little more ...
Do you submit that all people who have a .08% or greater BAC fall beneath this minimum threshhold?

Or just a majority?

And if a majority is great enough, could it not be said that a majority of people are too tired at 3:30am to drive safely? I often am. Should we then make it a crime to drive at 3:30am?

cropcirclewalker
June 10, 2004, 03:37 PM
RileyMc said:The encroaching nanny state is a result of people's stupidity. There ought to be a law against stupid people.
I hate to act like I am argumentative but I must disagree.

Stupid people are a result of the nanny state. There oughta be a law against the nanny state.

Before we had laws preventing people from being stupid, the stupid people usually, unless they were really lucky, killed themselves off. John John comes to mind.

Now, instead of killing themselves off they are reproducing. The gene pool gets shallower and shallower and before long we have a population that thinks, "If there isn't a law against it, it must be safe." Thus is born the bungie jumper.

Molon Labe
June 10, 2004, 03:47 PM
This is somewhat of a hijack, but it is naïve to believe a person necessarily becomes dangerous when driving drunk.

Think of it statistically... If you were to make a graph of “sober driving skill” vs. “number of drivers,” you would end up with a Gaussian (“Bell”) distribution. Most people would fall in the middle of the bell curve. There would be a few terrible drivers on one end of the spectrum, and a few exceptionally good drivers on the other end of the spectrum. Your classic bell curve.

Not to boast, but I consider myself to be an exceptional driver. I’ve been driving for 20 years (I’m 36), and have never once been in an accident. And I’ve done a lot of driving.

So this means there are (sober) drivers who are much worse than me, correct? If I have a few beers, my driving skills will become worse. But how much worse? Let’s say three beers in a 1-hour period moves me to the center of the bell curve. Would I not still be better than half the sober drivers?

Molon Labe
June 10, 2004, 03:57 PM
BTW: I think the DUI thing has become somewhat of a distraction. (And it’s mostly my fault.) To get back on track:

What are your thoughts on might-crimes in general? Do believe the definition I put forth is correct?

Are might-crimes a new phenomenon? In other words, did we have any might-crimes in the 19th Century?

What other might-crimes can you think of?

Are all might-crimes bad? Or are there valid and invalid ones?

Do might-crimes go hand-in-hand with an Orwellian Society?

When did might-crimes catch on? How did we get hoodwinked into accepting them?

FPrice
June 10, 2004, 04:16 PM
"I used to agree with you 100%. But the DUI thing became a dilemma for me. It is certainly a might-crime. But valid, none-the-less?"

I knew as soon as I made my post that someone would come up with something like this. It would be nice if everything in life fell into oh-so-neat categories of black and white but that is not always the case.

DUI falls into a category of things which is inherently so potentially dangerous and (dare I say it?) STUPID that it is difficult at best to argue against it. Yet at the same time it is so difficult to draw a clearly definable and universal line which pinpoints the exact moment for everyone at which you are Impaired. I may be impaired at one drink while you might not be impaired until 2 or 3 drinks.

Some people might try to draw an analogy between DUI and owning a firearm in an attempt to discredit one or the other, yet this is so patently a false comparison that it can be defeated in a moment.

Driving is a legal activity which may be done safely every day as millions of us prove. Owning a firearm is similarly a safe activity as again millions of us prove on a daily basis.

Drinking is also a legal and safe activity. Shooting a firearm is a safe and legal activity. Both of these actions are done everyday by more millions of people in a safe, responsible manner with little more than an aching head or ringing ears as a result in some cases.

DUI, particularly on a public road, exposes other drivers to an unreasonable extra danger. Firing a firearm indiscriminately in a populated area (e.g., in the air during New Year's Eve) exposes other people to an unreasonable extra danger.

"It wouldn’t take much to convince me that driving impaired is O.K. Seriously. After all, I think I’m a better driver drunk than most people are sober..."

You MIGHT be a better driver drunk than some people are sober, but that is another discussion. But if you think think you are a SAFE driver drunk, than you are something I won't call you in a public message out of common courtesy and a desire to not violate forum rules against insulting other forum members.

cropcirclewalker
June 10, 2004, 04:19 PM
I said that there were NO good "might crimes".

They call it prior restraint.

It criminalizes fate or luck or devine providence.

So you skip a flat rock out over a calm lake.

A migrating pellican swoops down and grabs the rock and flies away. Later. off the coast of Georgia, it gets a tummy ache and as it flies along, it pukes out the rock.

As the rock falls, it's sucked into the intake of a 747 on its way to France. 5 miles off the coast the engine fails, the plane crashes, and hundreds of people who belong to the French Socialist Party are killed.

The US branch of the socialists, (The Democrats) determine that flipping flat rocks is a crime.

Expost facto Opie from the Andy Griffith show is arrested and we never get to see "Happy Days" and the world is worse for it.

Can you see by my scenario, how prior restraint crimes are wrong?

FPrice
June 10, 2004, 04:28 PM
It occurs to be that a better example of the problem maybe the difference between "mala in se" crimes as opposed to "mala prohiba" crimes (hopefully my spelling is correct.

What do you think?

Zundfolge
June 10, 2004, 04:31 PM
This is somewhat of a hijack, but it is naïve to believe a person necessarily becomes dangerous when driving drunk.

Think of it statistically... If you were to make a graph of “sober driving skill” vs. “number of drivers,” you would end up with a Gaussian (“Bell”) distribution. Most people would fall in the middle of the bell curve. There would be a few terrible drivers on one end of the spectrum, and a few exceptionally good drivers on the other end of the spectrum. Your classic bell curve.

Not to boast, but I consider myself to be an exceptional driver. I’ve been driving for 20 years (I’m 36), and have never once been in an accident. And I’ve done a lot of driving.

So this means there are (sober) drivers who are much worse than me, correct? If I have a few beers, my driving skills will become worse. But how much worse? Let’s say three beers in a 1-hour period moves me to the center of the bell curve. Would I not still be better than half the sober drivers?
I don't think this is a hijack.

The problem with using BAC as a determination of "drunk driving" is that its arbitrary and not connected with your actual "imparement".

If you fail the roadside sobriety test (reflexes, etc) AND your driving was bad enough that it attracted the officers suspicion then that would be a "Real Crime" ... but it should be regardless of your BAC ... if you are able to pass the roadside sobriety test with a BAC of .12% then you should be let off on your way ... conversely if your BAC is .05% and you're staggering around unable to do the roadside test then you get hauled off.

Now to bring this back to unregistered machine guns, if you posses the unregistered machine gun and aren't doing anything illegal with it then fine ... its yours and the government shouldn't have anything to do with it ... however if you are found inside an office building, with a list of people's names under the heading "hit list" and you have the machine gun in your possession, then that should be enough of a "real crime" to arrest you.

But in order for any "might crime" to be prosecutable, I believe the authorities should be able to produce enough "probable cause" that your "might crime" will become a "real crime".

I know thats not the way it works, but if I'm ever king thats how things will be :D

BrokenPaw
June 10, 2004, 04:36 PM
The drunk driving subject is not, in and of itself, an improper part of the discussion, because drunk driving is not a "might" crime; it is a real crime.

Allow me to explain. If I pull out a gun, in public, and begin shooting, but don't hit anyone or damage any property, have I committed a real crime? Yes. Because I have done something that, while it did not cause any actual damage, placed other people at grievous risk without their consent.

Can some people shoot really really precisely? Yes. Is it okay, then, for them to set up a target on one side of a schoolyard, and shoot at it, between kids, even though they're good enough to guarantee that they're not going to hit a kid? I think we can agree that it is not. We set up a threshold of safety, like "do not shoot in populated places except in self defense" for a reason.

Implicit in driving a car is the knowledge that other people will likely be driving on the same roads. Those people have (or are supposed to have) obtained a license after having demonstrated some minimum level of competency. If I drive in a state where I am chemically impaired[0], I cannot be sure that I still meet that minimum level of competency. Therefore I am potentially not fit to be driving. Therefore I am placing other drivers at risk, without their consent. Therefore I have committed a real crime.

The definition of "real crime" that was posited at the beginning of this thread was a bit too narrow, is all. A person commits a real crime when he infringes on someone else’s right to life, liberty, or property, or places those rights at risk without the other person's consent.

-BP

[0] And we can dispense with specious arguments like "I'm a better driver drunk than most people are sober" -- over 70% of all drivers think they're better-than-average. You do the math.

R.H. Lee
June 10, 2004, 05:33 PM
Now, instead of killing themselves off they are reproducing. The gene pool gets shallower and shallower and before long we have a population that thinks, "If there isn't a law against it, it must be safe." Thus is born the bungie jumper

Ain't that the truth. It's like stupid people and the nanny state feed off each other and both increase. Then along comes "product liability", a worthwhile concept, to be sure. Consumers should have assurance that the stuff they buy is fit for the intended purpose, but various political agendas have hijacked the concept, and in so doing removed the stupidity of the consumer from the equation. There's the problem.

As to the BAC, it's arbitrary for sure, but an attempt to standardize the threshhold for DUI. Since the threshhold is known beforehand, it's hard to argue a DUI conviction. You don't want a DUI, don't drink and drive. Now I have a real problem with the California DMV. They publish a BAC chart, telling you what your blood alcohol will be dependent on how much you weigh and how many drinks you consume. To me, it is like promoting drinking and driving.

The "prior restraint" concept is getting out of hand, though. For example we have a university in town that has a large white letter "P" on the hillside. It had been painted in a rainbow color by the homosexual proponents. One night, somebody walked up the hill and painted it white.
That action is now being investigated as a "hate crime." Not to even get into the legality of "hate crimes", but where is the damage-to anyone?

Molon Labe
June 10, 2004, 05:33 PM
Brokenpaw: Good analogy. I've never thought of it that way.

in order for any "might crime" to be prosecutable, I believe the authorities should be able to produce enough "probable cause" that your "might crime" will become a "real crime."Good point Zundfolge.

Let’s say Joe Blow is caught with an unregistered full-auto weapon. Let’s also say the authorities undercover written plans of his that outline how to shoot up a school. Even though no crime has been committed (yet), I think we can all agree that the prosecution of this might-crime is warranted. But what if the cops just happen upon his weapon by accident? If there’s no evidence he was going to use the weapon for unlawful purposes, then I think we can agree that prosecuting him would be considered an invalid might-crime. In other words, he should not be prosecuted.

DUI might also be classified as a might-crime, but for different reasons. In a DUI case, there is rarely any evidence that the person explicitly desired harm someone. The only thing we have to go on is that the activity has been proven dangerous.

Do you think the AWB of 1994 is based on might-crimes? If it is, it’s a real stretch. Does Congress think the installation of a flash hider on my FAL might cause me to commit a crime?

Molon Labe
June 10, 2004, 05:40 PM
That action is now being investigated as a "hate crime." Not to even get into the legality of "hate crimes", but where is the damage-to anyone?Exactly. My question is: Did this action violate anyone’s right to life, liberty, property, or pursuit of happiness? If the answer is “no,” it is not a crime.

Vermonter
June 10, 2004, 05:51 PM
I would consider many drug offenses "might" crimes. For example, if I decide to grow marijuana in my garden for my own personal use I could be charged with a felony if it's over 2 plants in VT. Without ever interfering with anyone else's rights.

Roadkill Coyote
June 10, 2004, 06:07 PM
Since DUI has been well covered, particularly by Messer Paw, the question remains how we determine what risks require these restrictions. Human judgement, reflected in a social concensus, is how we draw that line. Yes, we have certain inalienable rights, but inalienable or not, the framers spent a long time arguing about how to word their enunciation of those rights. Why did it take so long, and initiate arguments that resound to this day? Because where those rights end was not as obvious as some have maintained. It was a difficult, complex, and important subject then, and it is a difficult, complex, and important subject now.

The main differance between then and now is the changes in how our social concensus views risk, and harm. We, as a soceity, have a greater understanding of some risks and harms, and a greater fear of others. Obviously, through medical progress, we know more about the effects of alcohol, and therefor the attendant risks of operating dangerous machinery. Through research we know about harms done by chemical that would have gone unrecognized. In addition to the changes based upon understanding, our soceity has changed in how we veiw risk itself. There was a time when a road that only washed out occasionally would have been considered safe enough. Today, it would be considered malfeasance on the part of the local government. Much of the change in attitude has come because we are a wealthy society, we can afford to demand better roads and more protection.

So, the problem is sorting out those concensuses that have changed based upon fear, not understanding, and focusing our attention on remaking them. That's what the High Road is about, remaking social concensuses, the faulty ones that were based upon fear, about firearms.

Edited for clarity

Telperion
June 10, 2004, 08:46 PM
That was an excellent analogy BrokenPaw, and one that I agree with. However, many people view any private firearms ownership as putting them at risk without their consent. They assert their right to a FDR-esque "freedom from fear". How would you address this claim?

jefnvk
June 10, 2004, 10:40 PM
However, many people view any private firearms ownership as putting them at risk without their consent. They assert their right to a FDR-esque "freedom from fear". How would you address this claim?

I view lack of firearm ownership as putting ME at risk, as now I am defenseless. I want my freedom of fear, also. Now, you are just forcing someone to decide who's freedom is more important.

Treylis
June 11, 2004, 09:49 AM
All malum prohibitum/prior restraint laws are irrational and should not exist, particularly ones where the perpetrator and the victim are apparently one and the same, such as drug possession/etc.

ctdonath
June 11, 2004, 01:11 PM
Did this action violate anyone’s right to life, liberty, property, or pursuit of happiness? If the answer is “no,” it is not a crime.

If that's the limit, then RKBA for self-defense is pointless, and amounts to punishment not prevention.

Sometimes an individual or society must act to prevent harm. Unfortunately, the blissninnies have a really squishy view about what "preventing harm" entails.

The basic criteria is: ability, opportunity, jeopardy.
Does the individual have the ability to cause harm?
Does the individual have the opportunity to cause harm?
Does the individual's actions place anyone in jeopardy of harm?
If a reasonable and prudent person would conclude that the answer to all three questions is "yes", then it is reasonable and prudent to take steps to prevent likely/impending harm.

Re: drunk driving
Does the driver have the ability to cause harm? Yes: a ton of steel in motion is a tool for harm.
Does the driver have the opportunity to cause harm? Yes: a moving vehicle can go from "safe" to "dangerous" in a second with a flick of a wrist (or negligent lack thereof).
Does the driver's actions place anyone in jeopardy of harm? Yes: surrounded by rapidly-changing traffic, the drunk driver is unable to cope with rapidly-changing situations in a safe and timely manner.
A reasonable and prudent person would thus conclude that such a driver places the life/liberty/pursuit-of-happiness of others at undue and immediate danger, and steps may be taken (arrest) to stop the driver.

The ability/opporutnity/jeopardy situation then becomes legitimate crime (pre-crime, might-crime) when the perpetrator created the situation either deliberately or negligently. Even if nobody was harmed, the issue is that a reasonable and prudent person would expect that harm will likely ensue unless the person is stopped.

Pity there seems few reasonable and prudent people writing laws.

cropcirclewalker
June 11, 2004, 02:13 PM
Hi, ho, there, ctdonath

Then, if I understand you correctly, it must be ok for me to shoot the next drunk driver I see.

'Cause, like you saidIf a reasonable and prudent person would conclude that the answer to all three questions is "yes", then it is reasonable and prudent to take steps to prevent likely/impending harm.

Hey, that would slow down the drunk driving instances. :D

mercedesrules
June 11, 2004, 02:59 PM
A real crime has an injured, complaining victim. "Might" crimes do not.

I would prefer that a bold line be drawn between the two.

MR

ctdonath
June 11, 2004, 07:54 PM
How would you address "reckless endangerment" issues? Surely something falls in the "don't do that 'cuz someone will likely get killed" category.

If you enjoyed reading about ""Might Crimes" vs. "Real Crimes." What are your thoughts on the former?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!