No, not criminal in the old sense, criminal in the sense that the law has expanded so much as to criminalize too many things. And especially problematic is the category of criminal laws that don't require mens rea.
Criminal law overreach is becoming too common these days, as noted in yesterday's WSJ article about the proliferation of laws in the U.S. Code making things illegal but without requiring criminal intent. In those cases the law breaker may not even know he/she is doing anything illegal. See As Federal Crime List Grows, Threshold of Guilt Declines:
This legal protection is now being eroded as the U.S. federal criminal code dramatically swells. In recent decades, Congress has repeatedly crafted laws that weaken or disregard the notion of criminal intent. Today not only are there thousands more criminal laws than before, but it is easier to fall afoul of them. ...As a result, what once might have been considered simply a mistake is now sometimes punishable by jail time.
It's not just the U.S. lawmakers. Right here in our very own town of Midland, Texas, the city council just created a class of criminals who water their lawns the wrong way. They break the law whether they know it or not, and it's straight to the $500 citation. Giving warning tickets is just too bothersome, you know. Apparently, Scott Dufford is the only council member who voted against it. See Nuisance water ordinance changed amid debate.
"This is what they want us to do," the article says the mayor proclaimed. In the summer of 2010 he proclaimed that 60% of the people with whom he spoke were clamoring for a local tax hike. The mayor needs to broaden his circle of friends.
One remark from the article was almost funny, except the joke's on us. One of the councilmen is supposed to have said, "if code enforcement becomes 'too aggressive' the wording can be changed back." Good one. Once it's on the books, it's there for good. There will be no going back.
It's all about control. Too many of the people in power want to control everyone else. And the criminal law makes that very convenient. Go lenient on an accidental law breaker, and he/she is eternally grateful. Hit 'em hard, and they learn who's boss.