Consciousness of Guilt; Consciousness of Innocence
What is Criminal Practice Like?

Sudafed is a Crime

Often people like me seem unreasonable. We fought efforts to make purchasing Sudafed a crime. Yes, Sudafed contains pseudoephedrine. Yes, pseudoephedrine can be used to manufacture meth. However, it's also the case that there are moronic police and prosecutors.  This is the kind of stuff that happens:

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.

Now, Harpold is trying to clear her name of criminal charges, and she is speaking out in hopes that a law will change so others won’t endure the same embarrassment she still is facing.

“This is a very traumatic experience,” Harpold said.

Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time.

Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period.

Perhaps granny is a druggie. Perhaps she was purchasing Sudafed for her druggie kids. Surely the law makes an exception for people who innocently purchase "too much" Sudafed. Don't call prosecutor Nina Alexander surely:

When the police came knocking at the door of Harpold’s Parke County residence on July 30, she was arrested on a Vermillion County warrant for a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. But through a deferral program offered by Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander, the charge could be wiped from Harpold’s record by mid-September.

While the law was written with the intent of stopping people from purchasing large quantities of drugs to make methamphetamine, the law does not say the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth.

“The law does not make this distinction,” Alexander said.

The written law might not make the distinction.  Yet not every technical violation of the law needs to be vindicated.  Nina Alexander is too much of a nit-wit to understand prosecutorial discretion.  

Making anything a crime gives people like Nina Alexander a lot of power.  If nothing were a crime, prosecutors would have no power.  If everything were a crime, prosecutors would have total power.  In a world where many things are a crime, the discretion of people like Nina Alexander is the thin line keeping average Americans out of prison.

Have prosecutors proven that their enormous power?  Has Nina Alexander?