In our previous post, we began a discussion about proposed mens rea reforms in bills being considered by Congress. The concept of mens rea - a term often translated as "guilty mind" - is an important component of criminal justice. Traditionally, in order for an act to be considered criminal, the actor must have been aware that it was illegal and acted with criminal intent.
Most of us would consider ourselves law-abiding citizens. But can we be sure? By some estimates, there are approximately 4,500 or more crimes on the books, and that's just at the federal level. And because there is no central database (which would seem like a no-brainer), there is no way to definitively quantify the number of criminal statutes.
It has often been said that technology evolves faster than our ability to regulate its use. You might think the danger in this equation comes from consumer products that are released to the general public without proper testing and rules governing use. But in many cases, the real danger lies in how modern technology is used (and abused) by law enforcement agencies and other arms of the government.
We have written several times in the past year about the growing distrust between American communities and the police officers who work within them. This anger and distrust has been sparked, in large part, by the numerous fatal shootings of unarmed African-American men by white police officers. Many other examples of apparent racial profiling in traffic stops have been recorded and shared by the suspects and bystanders. Such incidents have occurred here in Wisconsin as well as other parts of the Midwest.
Over the years, DUI defendants here in Wisconsin have presented some pretty creative explanations for why the charges against them were erroneous. While some of these explanations are fictitious, others are true. And sometimes, the most outrageous sounding stories prove that truth can be stranger than fiction.