Criminal Law Essay

1166 Words5 Pages
From: Brittani Herring
To: Reader
Date: July 24, 2013
Re: Status Punishment

Facts In the case of Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660 (1962), the Supreme Court ruled that a law may not punish 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. The question becomes; What if the status “forces” the action? What if a person, because of his/her addiction to drugs, is “forced” by the addiction to purchase and abuse the illegal drugs? Would punishing that person be unfairly punishing a status?
The issue in this case is whether or not punishing a person that is addicted to drugs to be unfairly punishing a status?
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Thus, the court determined that La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 40:961, 40:962 could have no application in the prosecution of a person for the mere status or condition that might possibly arise unintentionally or involuntary. The court dismissed defendant's appeal of the judgment that revoked the suspension of two concurrent 10-year sentences for violating the conditions of his probation. In the case of State ex rel. Blouin v. Walker, 244 La. 699 (La. 1963), the inmates based their petitions on Robinson, where the U.S. Supreme Court held that Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11721 violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments in that it was interpreted to punish the mere status of addiction even though resulting involuntarily. The appellate court distinguished La. Rev. Stat. Ann § 40:962 A, as denouncing a series of acts committed intentionally or voluntarily. Section 40:962(A) did not punish the mere status or condition of addiction, which might possibly result unintentionally or involuntary. Further, the Louisiana law provided for medical treatment, whereas the California enactment did not. None of the inmates were originally imprisoned; instead, immediately after conviction each was given a suspended sentence and placed on probation with instructions to accept medical assistance. They were incarcerated only after violating some condition of the suspension.
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