We cannot forget that criminal punishment necessarily involves the force of law to penalize the individual who is not compliant with such decrees. This will involve the punishment of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. It will involve bodily harm, restriction of freedom, and/or fines or other deprivation of a person’s property. Thus, the principles and standard held in society is so crucial.
If YOU would be acting criminally to so punish someone for so acting or not acting, then how could government be exempt from this moral standard?
It is the role of government to punish crime. But crime must be properly defined for government to remain limited. The definition must be correct for the proper role of government to be maintained. Criminal activity is no less criminal if done via the perversion of the institution of civil government itself. We all want less crime! But we must not justify criminal means for the end of punishing behavior we may or may not consider immoral when those actions do not palpably harm another individual.
The principle of what constitutes a crime is termed: Corpus Delicti. This term is latin for “Body of the Crime.”
This term has been defined in many ways, by many different courts, but it always boils down to at least:
1) The occurrence of a specific injury
2) The injury resulting from action, or inaction, from another person
Black’s Law Dictionary (6th Edition) defines Corpus Delicti as “[t]he fact of a crime having been actually committed.”
But there is more to it than this. This concept is truly a tripartite recipe. A crime consists of three equally necessary parts that need to be present for it to maintain its meaning. The “body” of a crime will always include:
1) Injury, Loss, or Harm. (It must be noted that this ingredient assumes a victim, or victims.)
2) Violation of a Legal Right or Duty
All three of these ingredients must be present for this actual crime to be legitimately punishable by civil government.
It must be a combination of an Actus Reus (“guilty act”) and Mens Rea (“guilty mind”) for it to actually constitute a crime.
In fact, the saying goes that Actus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea. Or, “the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty”.
Remember, the question with government is not whether or not people will have negative consequences for immoral decisions they may choose; it is the question of when your fellow man is accountable to you, via your agents in government, for the actions they take! And if it doesn’t involve palpable injury to another person, where could the line be logically drawn?
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia:
“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Once these principles are properly understood, traffic enforcement and the so-called “Justice” Courts are seen for what they have often become … a source of Injustice! A place in our society where some days more criminal activity occurs wrapped in clothes of supposed “legality,” than in the rest of society as a whole. The author knows this is unpopular to state, but it needs to be stated.
We must learn and understand the limited nature of legitimate legal action. Thomas Jefferson stated in his First Inaugural Address that:
“A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”
Good government, as defined by the great Thomas Jefferson, is what I champion and what the people of Orem deserve.
The City of Orem Justice Court, which was established in September 2010, declares four “core principles” as “objectives”:
1. Treating Individuals with dignity and respect
2. Ensuring that proceedings are open, impartial, and timely
3. Providing appropriate case follow-up to ensure compliance with judicial orders.
4. Advancing justice under the law
It claims that its mission is “to improve the quality of life in our communities”.
After understanding the principle of Corpus Delicti, which will necessarily be behind a free society, the author will leave the reader to judge for him or herself whether or not the system itself goes contrary to its entire claim.