The Wall Street Journal

The federal criminal code has grown so large it ensnares everyday citizens who have no idea they are violating the law, a bipartisan group of legal experts told a House panel Tuesday. There are about 4,500 criminal statutes, said Edwin Meese, attorney general under President Ronald Reagan and now with the conservative Heritage Foundation. "This is in addition to over 300,000 other regulations that don't appear in the federal code but nevertheless carry essentially criminal penalties including prison," he said. ... The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts figures some 80,000 defendants are sentenced in federal court each year.
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