Cites Support by D.C. Court of Appeals, Model Penal Code, Other States

The ACLU of the Nation's Capital has asked D.C. Council Public Safety and Judiciary Committee Chair Phil Mendelson to introduce a bill to exempt certain trivial or "de minimis" actions from coverage under the D.C. Criminal Code.

In 2009, the D.C. Court of Appeals recommended such a legislative solution when it considered the case of a husband who grabbed a cell phone from his wife, technically an assault under D.C. criminal law. The concept of "de minimis" actions comes from the legal principle that the "law does not concern itself with trifles." The court noted that the Model Penal Code contained such an exclusion, which has also been adopted by numerous states.

The ACLU also observed that many of the criminal statutes involved do not permit jury trials, so that the common sense of a jury is not available.

View a copy of the ACLU-NCA letter on "De Minimis" crimes.