Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: What are the long term effects of being convicted of a crime?
On average, American professionals commit several crimes per day, according to lawyer Harvey Silverglate. He wrote a book on the subject titled Three Felonies a Day. Silverglate and many others—including the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys—think Americans have to contend with too many criminal laws, so many in fact that most Americans are unaware of what, exactly, is illegal.
At common law, in order to be found guilty of a crime, a prosecutor had to demonstrate that a person possessed both a guilty mind—that is, he or she intended to commit the crime—and that the person did indeed commit the crime. American criminal law developed out of the British common law system, which in turn developed out of the Roman Civil Law system. The Romans called the guilty act “Actus reus” and the guilty mind “Mens rea.” A prosecutor needed to prove both to convict.
At the time of the founding of the United States, the federal government was vested by the Constitution of the United States with certain limited powers. The power to police common-law crimes was reserved to the states. The states employed the common law in order to provide and maintain order, and over time, states passed criminal codes or statutes—written laws—that superseded, replaced or were in addition to common-law crimes.
Eventually the federal government got into the act of policing crimes. The Congress passed laws creating certain agencies—the Federal Bureau of Investigators, the Drug-Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms—and gave to these agencies the authority to arrest, prosecute and imprison people for violating new federal criminal statutes.