Common Law Crimes

Episode 188 · January 20th, 2019 · 57 mins 10 secs

About this Episode

If you were charged with a crime, would you rather it be one written down by a legislature and codified in the tomes of a state's laws or one marked out by the decisions of judges over time? You're hardly alone if you chose the first option, and it is in fact the conventional wisdom that we have rightfully abandoned and prohibited "common law crimes." Not so fast, says our guest, Carissa Hessick. Our system of criminal law is still host to a good deal of common law, in the interstices of statutory text, through explicit incorporation, and sometimes from thin air. More importantly, if what you care about is the rule of law, then our system of code, in which prosecutors exercise less visible and less precedent-governed authority than any common law judge, hardly fits the bill.