An interesting article about federal laws and how easy they are to break without even knowing it, because there are so many, and because ignorance of these many thousands of federal laws is not considered an excuse
“Back in 1790, the first federal criminal law passed by Congress listed fewer than 20 federal crimes. Today there are an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, plus thousands more embedded in federal regulations, many of which have been added to the penal code since the 1970s.”
Federal statues are federal laws that have been passed by congress. Federal regulations are laws that are created by bureaucrats in federal agencies.
“At the federal level in the United States, legislation (i.e., “statutes” or “statutory law”) consists exclusively of Acts passed by the Congress of the United States and its predecessor, the Continental Congress, that were either signed into law by the President or passed by Congress after a presidential veto.”
“Legislation is not the only source of regulations with the force of law. However, most executive branch regulations must originate in a congressional grant of power. See also: Executive orders of the President; regulations of Executive branch departments and administrative agencies; and the procedural rules of the federal courts.”
A good book was written about this subject a while back: Three Felonies a Day:
“The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague.
In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey A. Silverglate reveals how federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from the English common law tradition and how prosecutors can pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, for even the most seemingly innocuous behavior.
The volume of federal crimes in recent decades has increased well beyond the statute books and into the morass of the Code of Federal Regulations, handing federal prosecutors an additional trove of vague and exceedingly complex and technical prohibitions to stick on their hapless targets.
The dangers spelled out in Three Felonies a Day do not apply solely to “white collar criminals,” state and local politicians, and professionals. No social class or profession is safe from this troubling form of social control by the executive branch, and nothing less than the integrity of our constitutional democracy hangs in the balance.”