United States v. Baldwin, No. 13-1198 (10th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Pro se defendant-appellant Charles Baldwin was convicted for violating two federal regulations: failing to comply with directions of federal police officers, and for "loitering, exhibiting disorderly conduct or exhibiting other conduct" on federal property that "imped[ed] or distrup[ed] the performance of official duties by" government employees. Defendant worked as an attorney for the Department of the Interior. The charges arose when, leaving for work, defendant sped through the parking lot, and swerved to miss hitting a bicyclist. A Federal Protective Service officer wanted to issue defendant a warning, but before he could finish, defendant drove off, ignoring the officer's commands to stop. The officer followed defendant off federal grounds, stopped defendant again, and asked for license, registration and proof of insurance. Defendant refused to comply, had to be forced from his vehicle, and was eventually restrained with handcuffs. Among other things, defendant argued that violating the two federal regulations wasn't a crime; they were administrative rules or policies that carried no penalty. And that even if they were crimes, defendant contended he didn't act with the sufficient mens rea to be held criminally culpable. The Tenth Circuit reviewed the circumstances of this case. And while the regulations "certainly do delineate policy, . . .that isn't all they do. Another section of the same regulatory 'subpart' expressly provides that the very sections Mr. Baldwin violated can be enforced through criminal sanctions." Furthermore, the Court found that "a law's silence about mens rea doesn't necessarily mean violating it isn't a crime." The Court affirmed defendant's convictions.