The growing web of laws that can land unwitting violators in jail is commonly referred to as "overcriminalization." These are not laws prohibiting fundamentally wrong behavior like murder or rape. Critics say these laws create offenses that violators often don't realize are illegal until it's too late.Punishment can range from a few hundred dollars in fees to lengthy prison terms. Some say the extraordinary expansion of the criminal code on federal, state and local levels leaves the public exposed to abuse at the hands of officials.'You take away the incentive for somebody to do something bit by bit by bit. It’s like peeling the layers off an onion. You can only peel so much and then you don’t have any onion left'- FIshing boat Capt. Terrell GouldWhen it comes to environmental laws, the states getting hit the hardest are the five that border the Gulf of Mexico -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Among them, nearly 1,000 laws criminalizing activities along the coast have been put on the books, Texas Public Policy Foundation analyst Vikrant Reddy said.While there is no concrete figure, there are an estimated 300,000-400,000 environmental laws, statutes and mandates believed to be in circulation nationally. Many can land a person in prison, regardless of whether another person, plant or animal is harmed.
By giving the government unlimited powers the most arbitrary rule can be made legal: and in this way a democracy may set up the most complete despotism imaginable.