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Substantive Guarantees Against Criminal Or Civil Penalties

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Chapter Summary

The distinction between a criminal punishment and a civil penalty, remedy, or regulatory restraint is of constitutional import. The Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment, is expressly limited to "any criminal case". The rule of law implies equality and justice in its application. In this context, the void for vagueness doctrine requires that a penal statute define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. However, the Constitution does not tolerate the conviction of persons who were affirmatively misled by the responsible administrative agency into believing that the law did not apply in their situation.

Keywords: Civil Penalties; civil penalty; Constitution; criminal penalty; Self-Incrimination Clause; Substantive

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