Ex Post Facto Law

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1. Define and describe ex post facto laws. An “ex post facto law is one that alters the laws regarding a particular act in such a way as to be detrimental to the substantial rights of an accused person” (Chamelin & Thomas, 2012, p. 15). These laws can happen in three ways: the timing and posting of new or changed laws, increasing punishments after a criminal act, and the decreasing of a state’s burden of proof. The first occurrence of an ex post facto is when a person commits an act before it is passed by legislation as a crime. Therefore, they cannot be prosecuted for the violation of the act. “Courts are constantly making ex post facto Law, because they are constantly in the practice of applying rules which were not in existence and were,…show more content…
In the common law, “a felony was defined as any crime for which the perpetrator could be compelled to forfeit his property-both real and personal-in addition to being subject to punishment through the procedures of death, imprisonment, or fine; generally the punishment is jail for more than one year or incarceration in state prison” (Chamelin & Thomas, 2012, p. 10 & 18). The following are classified as some of the major felonies: rape, manslaughter, murder, larceny, sodomy, robbery, arson, and burglary. The one key way to distinguish a felony from a misdemeanor is if punishment was required. A misdemeanor is defined as a crime of a minor class and the penalty is less than a felony. Some examples of misdemeanors’ include: prostitution, public intoxication, reckless driving, and trespassing. Both of these terms are used as a label to define class offences and are not applied uniformly throughout the country, instead each jurisdiction can choose which label and impose whichever punishment they see fit. However, the biggest difference for felonies and misdemeanors is not where criminals are imprisoned but for the how long they are imprisoned. Therefore, this major distinction is what sets them apart, “a felony under federal law is any crime for which the penalty is death or imprisonment for a term exceeding 1year” (Chamelin & Thomas, 2012, p.

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