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Subject: Differences in the law. rss

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It sound like Eric Holder will be making a decision on what to charge Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. One of the charges might be using a weapon of mass destruction. This puts him square into a federal charge.

And I am thinking. The guy in the Aurora went into a public place, shot and killed 12 people and injured 58 others.

He was charged with counts of 1st degree murder and attempted murder under the jurisdiction of the state. He murdered them with a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle and 2 glock.

While Tsarnaev will be charged "federally" because they built a pipe bomb and killed 4 people, injuring others.

This is where the patriot act for me breaks down into confusion. As if these individuals are found not to have worked with any terror cell organizations, had no federal transportation issues, just delusional individuals that went on a killing spree, they attacked a location in their own neighborhood and it wasn't a federal target then how will they justify jurisdiction?


But pipe bomb = federal crime.
Machine gun = state crime.
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MWChapel wrote:

Machine gun


Pedantic definition alert! Prepare for NRA definition enforcement in 3...2...1...
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As weird as it seems, it might come down to intent. When you point a gun, even one that sprays bullets, and pull the trigger you are forming direct personal intent to kill the person on the other end of the bullet's path. Even if you 'spray into a crowd' there is a direct personal link between shooter and target. You can see who has the gun, you can see who gets shot. It is a murder and horrible, but it is contained.

With bombs there is no direct traceable line. You place a bomb, and later it blows up and kills... someone. There's no rhyme or reasoning behind it. You can place a bomb so that maybe it will hit someone who is supposed to be there later, but who knows? Also, the lack of a direct weapon->crime line means it sows more fear. A man with a gun is scarey when he has a gun. He can kill people. People who use bombs mean that everybody and everything becomes scarey all the time. It has a much bigger impact on the psyche/peace of mind of even those not directly related to the crime.

Nothing material behind this response except my $.02
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Seriously though, this should only be a Federal case when there is probable cause for a terrorism conspiracy investigation. Otherrwise, both your examples are mass murder by different means. If anything, the bombers are murder with attempted mass murder as an amplifier charge. Aurora is full mass murder.
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I'm having a feeling this is why it's taking them so long to bring up charges and mirandizing him. Maybe they need to have that connection with a international terror cell to make the federal charges stick? The administration wants to stick terror charges on this kid, the pubic as a whole want to stick terror charges on this kid, but the law is the law. We don't make exceptions because the pubic is rabble rousing.

And I for one don't want to extend the powers of the patriot act for just this case. Then it makes it easier to bend towards the will of the government in latter cases as well.
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TheChin! wrote:
Seriously though, this should only be a Federal case when there is probable cause for a terrorism conspiracy investigation. Otherrwise, both your examples are mass murder by different means. If anything, the bombers are murder with attempted mass murder as an amplifier charge. Aurora is full mass murder.

I believe the ATF has jurisdiction over cases involving explosives whether they are terroristic or criminal. They may not decide to enforce that jurisdiction en every case and just allow the local authorities to handle the investigations, but that doesn't mean they cannot take over when they want.
 
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jmilum wrote:
I believe the ATF has jurisdiction over cases involving explosives whether they are terroristic or criminal. They may not decide to enforce that jurisdiction en every case and just allow the local authorities to handle the investigations, but that doesn't mean they cannot take over when they want.


But what charges could they levy with that jurisdiction? If I went on a killing spee with a rifle that I acquired illegally, I'm assuming they would have some kind of jurisdiction, but would that include the murder crime, or the possession of an illegal weapon crime?
 
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I was replying about the bombing aspect with respect to the ATF. With respect to Federal charges, discounting terrorism, the easiest death penalty charge they could probably get him on would be killing a local police officer assisting in a federal investigation.
 
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jmilum wrote:
With respect to Federal charges, discounting terrorism, the easiest death penalty charge they could probably get him on would be killing a local police officer assisting in a federal investigation.


See, now that will be an interesting angle. Was the MIT officer involved in the assistance for the man hunt? I guess you could say every officer in the state was. It sounded like he was just working his beat, but I can see how they could use that aspect. Can it stick though? That will be interesting to see how that plays out.
 
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This is all speculation on my part. I am just genuinely interested in how they approach this case. These kids are murderers, no doubt, and should face justice for all the killings. I am more worried about the lynch mob mentality of using the term "terrorism" and "enemy combatants", even when it may not be.
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MWChapel wrote:
This is all speculation on my part. I am just genuinely interested in how they approach this case. These kids are murderers, no doubt, and should face justice for all the killings. I am more worried about the lynch mob mentality of using the term "terrorism" and "enemy combatants", even when it may not be.

It's scary when I find myself fully agreeing with Chapel.
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MWChapel wrote:
This is all speculation on my part. I am just genuinely interested in how they approach this case. These kids are murderers, no doubt, and should face justice for all the killings. I am more worried about the lynch mob mentality of using the term "terrorism" and "enemy combatants", even when it may not be.


Mike hits the nail firmly on the head.

I'm also.....confused....as to why THIS case needs to be under Federal Jurisdiction.

Darilian
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Darilian wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
This is all speculation on my part. I am just genuinely interested in how they approach this case. These kids are murderers, no doubt, and should face justice for all the killings. I am more worried about the lynch mob mentality of using the term "terrorism" and "enemy combatants", even when it may not be.


Mike hits the nail firmly on the head.

I'm also.....confused....as to why THIS case needs to be under Federal Jurisdiction.

Darilian


One reason could be so they can ask for the death penalty. Mass has no death penalty.
 
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WMD meant nuclear weapon. OK, and chemical and biological weapons. Even those last two are a stretch compared to nuclear weapons. The fact that now things markedly inferior to ordinary battlefield weapons are classified as WMDs is politically inspired definition creep. Far from the worst thing in America's now decade long attempt to do more damage to itself than anyone else could do to it, but a small step on that road.
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I had a friend that built pipe bombs with black powder and buried them and set them off. These were large enough to set off car alarms a couple hundred feet away. If someone had gotten hurt, would he have been a terrorist?
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PomInNZ wrote:
I say put him in a cell with a 10ft square picture of that 8 year old boy's face on the wall and make him live with that for 60 years


That would be "cruel and unusual punishment", hence, unconstitutional.
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The OP seems to be thinking what should make a crime federal is how scary it is. That's mistaken. Using that as a guide will make policy worse, not better.

In the US, most crime is a state or local jurisdiction. Federal crimes should be things that it makes special sense to go after at the federal level. It's not merely how bad the crime is. For example, kidnapping becomes a federal crime once enough time has passed that the kidnappers could reasonably have crossed state lines. Mail fraud is a federal crime.

It's better to have most criminal justice at the local level for several reasons. We don't know how best to deal with crime, so having 50 experiments running in parallel is a good learning tool. Police power is the kind of power that it is dangerous to concentrate into too few hands with too little recourse.

The Boston bombings look federal because it's credible to think there may be a link to international terrorism. Sure, maybe Tamarlan went to Dagestan to pick mushrooms, but that's not a reasonable assumption.

The nutcase in Aurora just wanted to be famous. Actually, you could make a case that nihilism is tied to anarchism, and, hence, qualifies as a federal jurisdiction. I wouldn't be surprised to find this was done or at least attempted in the 19th century.
 
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And what do you think now?
 
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Koldfoot wrote:
You know Michael, I am with you on this.

After the bombing and before any suspects were identified I posted to RSP a few times asking why the FBI had jurisdiction over this crime.

I was not taken seriously.

I suppose I was taken to be a wing nut for asking the question. We are used to the FBI having jurisdiction on these type of crimes because they occur on planes or against federal buildings or against federal officials, but for the life of me I thought it was a stretch for the FBI to have jusrisdiction unless there was information that was not being released to the media.

I wasn't asked but the more I think about this one, the more it seems to me that the Boston police ought be taking the lead in this case with the FBI assisting at most. Nothing primarily associated with federal jurisdiction was involved and the suspicion of terrorism was just that-- a suspicion to be investigated.
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Koldfoot wrote:
Just for giggles, tell us what you think.

I believe I already have. Do you think this is different from the prosecution of the Times Square Bomber in 2010. His bomb didn't actually go off. I don;t remember anyone questioning the FBI taking charge in that case strangely enough?
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whac3 wrote:
I wasn't asked but the more I think about this one, the more it seems to me that the Boston police ought be taking the lead in this case with the FBI assisting at most.

What if the local authorities request that the FBI take the lead? Should the FBI refuse?
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jmilum wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I wasn't asked but the more I think about this one, the more it seems to me that the Boston police ought be taking the lead in this case with the FBI assisting at most.

What if the local authorities request that the FBI take the lead? Should the FBI refuse?

Why should they do that unless they don't have the means to properly investigate? What concrete facts make this a federal case?
 
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Would crossing international borders make this a federal crime - ie if they had training overseas?
 
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Jon_1066 wrote:
Would crossing international borders make this a federal crime - ie if they had training overseas?

possibly but again that would have to be established.

EDIT:
A clearer indicator would be if elements of the crime were done in Massachusetts and, fr example, if other elements (like say building the bomb itself) had been done elsewhere.
 
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whac3 wrote:
jmilum wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I wasn't asked but the more I think about this one, the more it seems to me that the Boston police ought be taking the lead in this case with the FBI assisting at most.

What if the local authorities request that the FBI take the lead? Should the FBI refuse?

Why should they do that unless they don't have the means to properly investigate? What concrete facts make this a federal case?

Those two questions are separate. The FBI has a lot of experience managing investigations with multiple law enforcement groups. The local authorities may have asked them to take the lead due to this.

It is a federal crime to use a bomb against citizens of the United States. You may not agree with that law, but it is a concrete fact that it is a current law that the federal government can use.
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