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Encyclopedia > Retrospective effect
It has been suggested that Lex retro non agit be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)
Criminal procedure
Investigating and charging crimes
Criminal investigation
Arrest warrant  · Search warrant
Probable cause  · Knock and announce
Exigent circumstance
Search and seizure  · Arrest
Right to silence  · Miranda warning (U.S.)
Grand jury
Criminal prosecution
Statute of limitations  · Nolle prosequi
Bill of attainder  · Ex post facto law
Criminal jurisdiction  · Extradition
Habeas corpus  · Bail
Inquisitorial system  · Adversarial system
Charges and pleas
Arraignment  · Indictment
Plea  · Peremptory plea
Nolo contendere (U.S.)  · Plea bargain
Related areas of law
Criminal defenses
Criminal law  · Evidence
Civil procedure
Portals: Law  · Criminal justice

An ex post facto law (from the Latin for "from something done afterward") or retroactive law, is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of acts committed or the legal status of facts and relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law. In reference to criminal law, it may criminalize actions that were legal when committed; or to aggravate a crime by bringing it into a more severe category than it was at the time it was committed; or to change or increase the punishment prescribed for a crime, such as by adding new penalties or extending terms; or to alter the rules of evidence in order to make conviction for a crime more likely than it would have been at the time of the action for which a defendant is prosecuted. Conversely, an ex post facto law may decriminalize certain acts or alleviate possible punishments (for example by replacing the death sentence with life-long imprisonment) retroactively. Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... Image File history File links Scale_of_justice. ... Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... An arrest warrant is a warrant issued by a public officer which authorizes the arrest and detention of an individual. ... A search warrant is a written warrant issued by a judge or magistrate which authorizes the police to conduct a search of a person or location for evidence of a criminal offense. ... In United States criminal law, probable cause refers to the standard by which a police officer may make an arrest, conduct a personal or property search or obtain a warrant. ... A knock and announce warrant, in the American law of criminal procedure, requires that the officer tasked with the responsibility of executing the warrant must knock on the door of the home to be entered for a search or arrest, and to announce their purpose. ... An exigent circumstance, in the American law of criminal procedure, allows law enforcement to enter a structure without a warrant, or if a they have a knock and announce warrant, without knocking and waiting for refusal under certain circumstances. ... I love this law whereby police, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a persons property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime. ... The Chicago Police Department arrests a man A protester is arrested during a demonstration. ... The right to silence is a legal protection enjoyed by people undergoing police interrogation or trial in certain countries. ... The Miranda warning is a police warning that must be given to criminal suspects in police custody in the United States before they can be asked questions relating to the commission of crimes. ... A grand jury is a type of jury, in the common law legal system, which determines if there is enough evidence for a trial. ... Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... A statute of limitations is a statute in a common law legal system setting forth the maximum period of time, after certain events, that legal proceedings based on those events may begin. ... Nolle prosequi is a Latin legal phrase meaning unwilling to pursue. ... A bill of attainder (also known as an act or writ of attainder) is an act of legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime, and punishing them, without benefit of a trial. ... Criminal jurisdiction is a term used in the law of criminal procedure to describe the power of a court to hear a case brought by the state accusing a criminal defendant of a violation of the law of the geographic area in which the court is located. ... Extradition is a formal process by which a criminal suspect held by one government is handed over to another government for trial or, if the suspect has already been tried and found guilty, to serve his or her sentence. ... In common law countries, habeas corpus (/heɪbiÉ™s kɔɹpÉ™s/), Latin for you [should] have the body, is the name of a legal instrument or writ by means of which detainees can seek release from unlawful imprisonment. ... The word bail as a legal term means: Security, usually a sum of money, exchanged for the release of an arrested person as a guarantee of that persons appearance for trial. ... An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in determining the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is solely that of an impartial referee between parties. ... The adversarial system (or adversary system) of law is the system of law, generally adopted in common law countries, that relies on the skill of the different advocates representing their partys positions and not on some neutral party, usually the judge, trying to ascertain the truth of the case. ... Arraignment is a common law term for the formal reading of a criminal complaint, in the presence of the defendant, to inform him of the charges against him. ... In the common law legal system, an indictment is a formal charge of having committed a serious criminal offence. ... In legal terminology, a plea is simply an answer to a claim made by someone in a civil or criminal case under common law using the adversary system. ... In the common law legal system, the peremptory pleas (pleas in bar), are pleas that set out special reasons for which a trial cannot go ahead. ... In both criminal and civil trials in the United States, a plea of nolo contendere means that the defendant neither admits nor disputes the charge. ... A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case in which a prosecutor and a defendant arrange to settle the case against the defendant. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of statutory and common law that deals with crime and the legal punishment of criminal offenses. ... The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e. ... Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the process that courts will follow when hearing cases of a civil nature (a civil action). These rules govern how a lawsuit or case may be commenced, what kind of service of process is required, the types of pleadings or... Latin was the language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... The stela of King Hammurabi depicts the god Shamash revealing a code of laws to the king. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of statutory and common law that deals with crime and the legal punishment of criminal offenses. ... Main Entry: crim·i·nal·ize Pronunciation: kri-m&-n&l-Iz, krim-n&-lIz Function: transitive verb Inflected Form(s): -ized; -iz·ing to make illegal : OUTLAW; also : to turn into or treat as a criminal - crim·i·nal·i·za·tion /kri-m&-n&l-&-zA-sh&n... Rules of evidence govern if, when, how, and for what purpose proof of a case is placed before a trier of fact for consideration. ...


A hypothetical example: someone committed a high-profile, brutal murder, but the public thinks the existing laws will not punish the murderer severely enough; so the legislature enacts laws that will more severely punish those who have committed the crime of murder ensuring that this specific murderer will get a prison sentence longer than that prescribed at the time he committed the crime. A legislature is a type of representative deliberative assembly with the power to adopt laws. ...


A law may have an ex post facto effect without being technically ex post facto. For example, when a law repeals a previous law, the repealed legislation no longer applies to the situations it once did, even if such situations arose before the law was repealed. The principle of prohibiting the continued application of these kinds of laws is also known as Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali. Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali is a basic maxim in continental European legal thinking, authored by Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach as part of the Bavarian Code in 1813. ...


Generally speaking, ex post facto laws are seen as a violation of the rule of law as it applies in a free and democratic society. Most common law jurisdictions do not permit retroactive legislation, though some have suggested that judge-made 'law' is retroactive as a new precedent applies to events that occurred prior to the judicial decision. In some nations that follow the Westminster system of government, such as the United Kingdom, ex post facto laws are technically possible as parliamentary supremacy allows the parliament to pass any law it wishes. However, in a nation with an entrenched bill of rights or a written constitution, ex post facto legislation may be prohibited. The rule of law is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedure. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... In law, jurisdiction (from the Latin jus, juris meaning law and dicere meaning to speak) is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area... In law, a precedent or authority is a legal case establishing a principle or rule which a court may need to adopt when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. ... The Westminster system is a democratic system of government modelled after that of the United Kingdom system, as used in the Palace of Westminster, the location of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. ... Parliamentary sovereignty or Parliamentary supremacy is the concept in British constitutional law that a parliament has sovereignty. ... States currently utilizing parliamentary systems are denoted in orange and red—the former being constitutional monarchies where authority is vested in a parliament, and the latter being parliamentary republics whose parliaments are effectively supreme over a separate head of state. ... A bill of rights can be a statement of certain rights that may be guaranteed to citizens or residents of a society, legal jurisdiction, or nation-state; or an enumeration of rights they would like to have or believe they ought to have. ...


Ex post facto is the uncomplimentary characterization of law and legislation that applies retroactively (i.e. "from a thing done afterward").

Contents

Ex post facto laws internationally

  • Australia - Australia has no strong constitutional prohibition on ex post facto laws, though narrow retroactive laws may violate constitutional separation of powers principles. Courts do interpret statutes with a strong presumption that they do not apply retroactively. Retroactive laws designed to combat tax avoidance were passed in the early 1980s by the Fraser government (see Bottom of the harbour tax avoidance).
  • Canada - ex post facto criminal laws are constitutionally prohibited by section 11(g) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms however if the punishment for a crime has varied between the time the crime was committed and the time of a conviction the convicted person is entitled to the lesser punishment.
  • Finland has used ex post facto legislature in 1945, after the World War Two on the trial of the war responsibilities in Finland. A law which made the pre-war politics criminal was passed in order to get the leaders nominated by Stalin sentenced. Generally ex post facto jurisprudence is considered violating the Romano-German judicial system, but it is not prohibited in the Finnish law.
  • Germany - Article 103 of the German basic law requires that an act may only be punished if it has already been punishable by law at the time it was committed (specifically: by written law, Germany following civil law).
The Nuremberg Trials and other post-World War II laws that prosecuted former members of the Nazi party are often accused of being ex post facto laws.
  • Indonesia - Article 28I of the Indonesian constitution prohibits trying citizens under retroactive laws in any circumstance. This was tested in 2004 when the conviction of one of the Bali bombers under retroactive anti-terrorist legislation was quashed.
  • Italy - Article 25, paragraph 2, of the Italian Constitution establishing that "nobody can be punished but according to a law come into force before the deed was committed" prohibits indictment pursuant a retroactive laws. Article 11 of preliminary provisions to the Italian Civil Code and Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Statute of taxpayer's rights prohibit retroactive laws on principle, but such provisions can be derogated by acts having force of the ordinary law.
  • Ireland - The imposition of retrospective criminal sanctions is prohibited by Article 15.5.1° of the Constitution of Ireland. Retrospective changes of the civil law have also been found to violate the constitution when they would have resulted in the loss in a right to damages before the courts, the Irish Supreme Court having found that such a right is a constitutionally protected property right.
  • Norway - Article 97 of the Norwegian constitution prohibits any law to be given retroactive force.
  • Sweden - Retroactive penal sanctions and other retroactive legal effects of criminal acts due the State are prohibited by chapter 2, article 22, point 5 of the Instrument of Government (Regeringsformen). Retroactive taxes or charges are not prohibited but can only have retroactive effect reaching back to when a new taxbill was proposed by the government, the retoactive effect thus reaches from that time until the bill is passed by the parliament.

The separation of powers (or trias politica, a term coined by French political, enlightenment thinker Montesquieu) is a model for the governance of democratic states. ... John Malcolm Fraser AC, CH (born 21 May 1930), Australian politician and 22nd Prime Minister of Australia, came to power in the circumstances of the dismissal of the Whitlam government. ... Bottom of the harbour tax avoidance was a form of tax avoidance used in Australia in the 1970s. ... crap ... The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the bill of rights which forms part of the Constitution of Canada adopted in 1982. ... Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen: Revolutionary patriotism borrows familiar iconography of the Ten Commandments Wikisource has original text related to this article: Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (French: La... The Süddeutsche Zeitung announces The Verdict in Nuremberg. ... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Nazi Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry Truman Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead... The Bali Bombing occurred on October 12, 2002 in the town of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people and injuring a further 209. ... The December 1979 constitution, and its 1989 amendment, define the political, economic, and social order of the Islamic Republic of Iran. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... The Constitution of Ireland is the founding legal document of the state known today as the Republic of Ireland. ... The Supreme Court (Irish: Chúirt Uachtarach) is the highest judicial authority in the Republic of Ireland. ... The current and official Constitution of the Republic of South Africa was adopted on 8 May 1996. ... International law (also called public international law to distinguish from private international law, i. ... The Swedish Constitution consists of four fundamental laws (Swedish: grundlagar): The Instrument of Government (Regeringsformen, 1974) The Act of Succession (1810) The Freedom of the Press Act (1766) The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (1991) There is also a law on the working order of the Parliament with a... Parliamentary sovereignty, parliamentary supremacy, or legislative supremacy is a concept in constitutional law that applies to some parliamentary democracies. ... The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, also known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), was adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe[1] in 1950 to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: Article One of the United States Constitution Article One of the United States Constitution states the establishment of the legislative branch of the United States government, known as the Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. ... Page I of the Constitution of the United States of America Page II of the United States Constitution Page III of the United States Constitution Page IV of the United States Constitution The Syng inkstand, with which the Constitution was signed The Constitution of the United States is the supreme... The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States... The Case of Calder v. ... 1798 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Samuel Chase painting by John Beale Bordley (1836). ... The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (Pub. ... The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. ... The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States... Smith v. ... The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is one of the post-Civil War amendments and it includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. ... 378 U. S. 347, 354, in which the United States Supreme Court held that due process prohibits retroactive application of any judicial construction of a criminal statute that is unexpected and indefensible by reference to the law which has been expressed prior to the conduct in issue. ... In this 2001 case, the United States Supreme Court held that Tennessees retroactive abolition of the year and a day rule was constitutional. ...

European Convention on Human Rights

Most European nations, and all European Union nations, are bound by the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 7 of the convention prohibits ex post facto criminal laws subject to two exceptions. It also prohibits a heavier penalty being imposed than was applicable at the time when an act was committed. The exceptions are: The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, also known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), was adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe[1] in 1950 to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. ...

  • Acts illegal under international law at the time of their commission.
  • Acts criminal according to "the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations".

International law (also called public international law to distinguish from private international law, i. ...

Quotes

  • "The sentiment that ex post facto laws are against natural right, is so strong in the United States, that few, if any, of the State constitutions have failed to proscribe them. The federal constitution indeed interdicts them in criminal cases only; but they are equally unjust in civil as in criminal cases, and the omission of a caution which would have been right, does not justify the doing what is wrong. Nor ought it to be presumed that the legislature meant to use a phrase in an unjustifiable sense, if by rules of construction it can be ever strained to what is just." (Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13th, 1813)

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 N.S. – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and an influential founder of the United States. ...

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