Roughly, how many laws are there by which you can be punished by prison for breaking them?
They are almost too numerous to count. Generally each state has crimes for which you can be imprisoned in the following categories:
These would be the major categories. But each state may have additional categories. In addition, under each of these categories there can be several different variations or degrees of the crime. For instance under Homicide there can be - Murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular homicide. And each of these variations can have different degrees.
So, as you can see, the number of crimes for which you can be imprisoned is quite large, and the number is XXXXX to count.
Furthermore, there an equal or greater number of federal crimes for which you can be imprisoned.
The criminal laws are indeed vast. I hope this gives you some idea of the number.
Is there any way in which you could provide a very rough estimate. Like maybe get an average number of variations for each crime and multiply them together in some sort. I was hoping to use an estimate of this on a research project.
Ok, but it is a very, very rough estimate. I am going to assume that there are 5 variations for each of the above categories. That gives a number of 75. Then to this I am going to add an additional 20 for various crimes that do not fall into one of the above categories. So that is 95, lets call it an even 100. This number 100 would be for any individual state's criminal laws. To this you have to add Federal crimes. So, for Federal crimes, I am just going to assume that there are an equal number of imprisonable offenses as there are for each state. So let's say 100 for Federal crimes.
That gives us a grand total of 200 crimes. Again, this is a very, very rough estimate.
Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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