07 May 2008

Disobey Me and It's Treason

A while back, the General Assembly made those of us who are "attorney[s] for the Commonwealth" into conservators of the peace. § 19.2-12. Yesterday I found out that this means if people don't obey me they can spend up to 30 days in jail.
§ 18.2-464. Failure to obey order of conservator of the peace.

If any person, being required by a conservator of the peace on view of a breach of the peace or other offense to bring before him the offender, refuse or neglect to obey the conservator of the peace, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor; and if the conservator of the peace declare himself or be known to be such to the person so refusing or neglecting, ignorance of his office shall not be pleaded as an excuse.
Cool. So, you come to me and tell me you saw John "the Pitcairn Axe-Murderer" Smith rob a bank and I tell you to bring John Smith before me. You, quite sensibly, refuse and get 30 days in jail. But wait, there's more.
§ 18.2-481. Treason defined; how proved and punished.

Treason shall consist only in:

. . .

(5) Resisting the execution of the laws under color of its authority.
One of the people I was discussing this with, a former Trooper now a defense attorney, described § 18.2-464 as the "Insta-Deputy" statute. Once I tell you to bring someone before me you are acting under color of the law's authority. When you resist the execution of my lawful order you are committing treason and that means you get 20 years to life in prison.

Wow. It's amazing what you find when you actually read the statutes.


Anonymous said...

This is kind of old, but I feel the need to point this out --

Could you lawyers stop reading the law books? It's making it harder for legislative clerks to add these little pranks in there. I hope none of you find the "Cheese-Whiz Exception" in the tax code...

Anonymous said...

I would have a tendency to believe this would be some sort of ethical conflict?