Lawmaker: Stop prosecution for victimless crime

Last modified: 2/10/2012 12:00:00 AM
A Litchfield Republican who favors a literal reading of the state Constitution asked lawmakers yesterday to follow the document and let up on victimless crimes like consensual prostitution and speeding on empty roadways.

Those acts along with drug use and drug sales have no victim, according to Rep. George Lambert, and should not be so easily prosecuted. He pitched a bill to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee yesterday that would require prosecutors to produce an actual victim at a trial.

Lambert said the Constitution demands as much when it says people who enter society give up some rights to 'ensure the protection of others.' The 'others' are victims, and without them, there is no crime, Lambert said.

'My bill, very simply states, 'Show us the victim,' ' he said.

Committee members had lots of questions but no obvious signs of enthusiasm for Lambert's bill.

Rep. Steve Shurtleff, a Penacook Democrat, noted it is a goal of law enforcement officials to stop crime before there is a victim. 'But under this bill, a law enforcement officer would be hesitant to make an arrest until there was a victim of the crime,' he said.

Law enforcement officials lined up to oppose Lambert's bill.

'This is against sound public policy,' said Jane Young, head of the criminal division at the state attorney general's office. 'I have prosecuted drug cases for many years and people would say it's a victimless crime. Look at the number of homicides, burglaries, robberies and assaults' related to drugs.

She said Lambert's law would make it difficult to prosecute public officials who accept bribes, inmates who escape from prison and people who lie to the police. 'And if I conspired with someone to commit murder and we drove to the person's house and found they weren't home, I guess we'd get a free pass because no one was home,' she said.

Many laws, she and others said, are to discourage worse crimes. 'You want to discourage conspiracy to commit murder.'

Chris Casko, an attorney with the department of safety, added driving while intoxicated to Young's list of crimes that would be weakened under Lambert's bill. 'If there is no crash, there is no victim,' he said. 'That is creating a drastically dangerous situation on our highways.'

Just as many spoke for it.

Bob Constantine, of nhjury.com, said his group lives by the saying, 'No victim, no crime.'

'All I want is to be left alone,' he said. 'That doesn't mean I want to harm people or assault people. If I sit in my living room and chose not to drink alcohol and (instead) decide to smoke a joint, (the police) are not defending a victim. They are assailing me.'

Rich Angell from Grafton County told the committee he didn't buy the argument that some crimes victimize the state, not an individual. He said society is a 'fictitious construct' and therefore cannot be victimized.

The committee didn't immediately vote on the bill.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323 or atimmins@cmonitor.com.)


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Concord Monitor, recently named the best paper of its size in New England.


Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2019 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy