Criminal Law

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Traci White-Jones
Criminal Law Asst #1



In Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660 (1962), the Supreme Court ruled that a law may not punished a status; i.e., one may not be punished to being an alcoholic or for being addicted to drugs. However, of course, one may be punished for actions such as abusing drugs. If the defendants status "forces" the action because of his or her addiction to drugs, is "forced" by the addiction to purchase and abuse the illegal drug? Would punishing that person be unfairly punishing a status?


A California statute makes it a criminal offense for a person to "be addicted to the use of narcotics." Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660 Appeal draws into question the constitutionality of that provision of the state law, as construed by the California court.

Such regulation, it can be assumed, could take a variety of valid forms. A State might impose criminal sanctions, for example, against the unauthorized manufacture, prescription, sale, purchase, or possession of narcotics within its borders. In the interest of discouraging the violation Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660   of such laws, or in the interest of the general health or welfare of its inhabitants, a State might establish a program of compulsory treatment for those addicted to narcotics. Such a program of treatment might require periods of involuntary confinement. And penal sanctions might be imposed for failure to comply with established compulsory treatment procedures. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197,U.S. 11 A State might choose to attack the evils of narcotics traffic on broader fronts also - through public health education, for example, or by efforts to eradicate the economic and social conditions under which those evils might be thought to flourish.


The view that laws and their enforcement are effective against drug use and addiction is widespread. What,...
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