(ConservativePeak)- Before President Donald Trump left office, he signed a new executive order designed to protect Americans from suffering “overcriminalization” by regulations. Under the order, issued on Monday – two days before President Joe Biden took office – Americans will be able to more easily understand regulations and laws to avoid unwarranted criminal punishment.
In the order, the president said that it is “in the interest of fairness” that federal criminal law “should be clearly written so that all Americans can understand what is prohibited and act accordingly.”
It is one of the final acts of President Trump and is in line with his broader efforts over the last four years to lessen regulatory barriers.
“Some statutes have authorized executive branch agencies to promulgate thousands of regulations, creating a thicket of requirements that can be difficult to navigate, and many of these regulations are enforceable through criminal processes and penalties,” the executive order continues.
The effect of the order, assuming newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden doesn’t scrap it out of spite, would reduce the regulatory burden on Americans and make it easier to understand new laws and criminal liability for violating those laws willingly or inadvertently. Under the order, prosecutors are also encouraged to concentrate on punishing the “most culpable individuals” rather than those who simply didn’t understand the laws.
“Criminal prosecutions based on regulatory offenses should focus on matters where a punitive defendant had actual or constructive knowledge that conduct was prohibited,” the president wrote.
The order attempts to overcome overcriminalization by discouraging “strict liability offenses” that don’t require prosecutors to prove mens rea, or a person’s intention to commit a crime. Trump’s order requests that federal agencies consider the use of civil or administrative enforcement in cases where people are unclear about the law, rather than jumping straight to criminal offenses.
Should President Joe Biden quickly undo the executive order, it would be a clear sign that Biden intends to make it as hard as possible for businesses in the United States to succeed.
Fingers crossed it doesn’t get caught up in the flurry of fresh executive orders coming from President Joe Biden.