Limiting Criminal Law’s “In for a Penny, In for a Pound” Doctrine
Written By: Wesley M. Oliver
The Supreme Court took two cases this Term involving doctrines of criminal law typically dealt with by state courts, and in each of them, it limited criminal liability for harms not attributable to a defendant’s culpability.
Although the Court interprets federal criminal statutes with some frequency, it rarely considers provisions of statutes that would provide persuasive authority for the interpretation of state criminal codes—at least not the most used provisions of state criminal codes. Unlike state criminal laws, federal criminal laws have jurisdictional requirements and generally have more complex components. It is typically these unique aspects of federal criminal laws that the Supreme Court considers. Yet in two recent decisions, Rosemond v. United States and Burrage v. United States, the Court considered—and limited—the scope of accomplice liability and a drug-crime-specific version of the felony murder rule.
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