Lenity and Federal Common Law Crimes

  title={Lenity and Federal Common Law Crimes},
  author={Dan Kahan},
  journal={The Supreme Court Review},
  pages={345 - 428}
  • D. Kahan
  • Published 1 January 1994
  • Law
  • The Supreme Court Review
Federal criminal law is widely believed to be marred by an embarrassing contradiction. It is a basic axiom of federal criminal jurisprudence that a court should adopt the "harsher" of "two rational readings of a criminal statute only when Congress has spoken in clear and definite language."' More than a simple canon of construction, this principle-known as the "rule of lenity"-is considered essential to securing a variety of values of near-constitutional stature. Narrow construction fcriminal… 
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See Sunstein, 103 Harv L Rev at 415-41 (cited in note 2) (critiquing it)

    The Federal Courts at 300 (cited in note 15) (recognizing "judge-made concepts of criminal law, such as the meaning of and requirements for proving

      Doing and Deserving at 102-04 (cited in note 106)

        United States v Culbert, 435 US

        • 1978