Ex Post Facto Laws

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Ex post facto laws


Ex post facto laws refer to laws that apply to acts committed before the enactment of such laws and are, therefore, disadvantageous to the affected persons. The United States constitution in article I, section 10 prohibits the state from enacting such retroactive laws. This prohibition protects individuals from unjust legislative acts. However, the ban on ex post facto laws applies only with regard to criminal and not civil laws (Zollar, 2002). I believe that the US constitution is reasonable and consistent by containing provisions that limit the enactment of ex post facto laws since this help in safeguarding the rights of individuals under existing laws. If the constitution did not contain the ex post facto clause, individuals would be unfairly subjected to laws that act retrogressively and deny them justice. For instance, an adult should not be prosecuted for crimes he committed when he was a minor if such crimes could not be instituted against him at that time due to limitation on juvenile court jurisdiction. I concur with the authors of the ex post facto clause that laws should not be applied retroactively. However, where the rule cannot be reasonably applied, various exceptions should be incorporated to make the rule workable. Like every other rule, I believe that it is important for the ex post facto clause to have various exceptions that would ensure its enforceability. While I agree that laws should not be enacted retrogressively, I feel that the biggest challenge facing the ex post facto clause is the obscure differentiation of criminal laws from civil laws. The clause that prohibits ex post facto laws bans several acts. First, it prohibits the creation of criminal laws and making them retroactive. Such retroactive laws have the effect of criminalizing acts committed before their enactments. The clause also prohibits laws that are made in order to retroactively aggravate a crime,...
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