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· Registered
1,981 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Or does this country getting in serious trouble with anybody and their sisters being able to pass laws?

Let's think about it. We have laws that are passed at the Federal level, then the State. Both of these have highly varying levels of quality as they mostly contradict each other or the constitution.

Then we have cities passing laws/ordinances as they please. What is the qualifications of someone on the city council to take away your rights by passing some BS ordinance?

So, some city can pass a law saying that making a right on red is illegal and you are driving by this city and bam! (Or carrying a gun with a round in the chamber for that matter). You broke it, yet didn't even know about it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that there are way too many laws and way too many bodies who have the desire to pass them.

· Lawyer and Gun Activist
30,356 Posts
County Ordinances

How's this for abuse of power:

County decides to pass a non-smoking ordinance for all its government-owned and run buildings (assume no state law on point, and no preemption).

They make smoking in the building a crime. Not a civil penalty, nor a violation of the rules of conduct, but a crime with jail time as a possible penalty.

The maximum punishment for a first offense? Up to 60 days in jail.

And each time you light up in such a building, it is a separate and distinct offense and each sentence may be run consecutive to (not concurrent with) the other sentences.

This is real. It happened.

Now who can think of a situation where 60 days in jail might be the appropriate penalty for smoking tobacco at the tag office, or courthouse, or library? Instead of, say, 2 days in jail? (If the offender takes a bad attitude and yells at the government official: I can smoke anywhere I damn well please and if you don't like it, take a flying leap, you Nazi !!)

Suppose the County wanted to make smoking within 50 feet of the building a crime-- even 45 feet away from the entrance. How about if they banned smoking on county property entirely, even in your own personal car in the parking lot?

What if they made the sentencing range up to 180 days in jail? Or even a full year? Is there any reason why they can't declare this kind of crime to be punishable with the maximum misdemeanor penalty allowed by state law?

And the U.S. constitution may not grant you the right to a trial by jury. For petty offenses where the maximum punishment is 6 months in jail or less for EACH COUNT, I don't think you have a right to a jury trial. A judge, hearing officer, the mayor, etc. could be the neutral finder of fact to hear your case and decide your fate. Even if you were charged with smoking in the bathroom every morning before work over the course of a month, and you therefore faced 30 consecutive sentences of 60 days each, for a total of 5 years of jail time!

(Don't quote me on that; I could be wrong. It's been years since I studied constitutional criminal procedure, and this kind of case just doesn't happen in real-life).
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