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Constitution

Criminal Law

2012

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Punishment Without Culpability, John F. Stinneford Jul 2012

Punishment Without Culpability, John F. Stinneford

UF Law Faculty Publications

For more than half a century, academic commentators have criticized the Supreme Court for failing to articulate a substantive constitutional conception of criminal law. Although the Court enforces various procedural protections that the Constitution provides for criminal defendants, it has left the question of what a crime is purely to the discretion of the legislature. This failure has permitted legislatures to evade the Constitution’s procedural protections by reclassifying crimes as civil causes of action, eliminating key elements (such as mens rea) or reclassifying them as defenses or sentencing factors, and authorizing severe punishments for crimes traditionally considered relatively minor ...