Lansdale Woman’s Chemical Weapons Conviction Overturned by Supreme Court

Filed under: Criminal Law by Contributor @ June 25, 2014

In Bond v. United States, the United States Supreme Court threw out the 2007 conviction of a Lansdale woman for possession of a chemical weapon.  Back in 2006, Carol Bond discovered that her friend was pregnant and that her husband was the father.  To get revenge, she stole 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine from her job and ordered potassium dichromate, intending to mix them together to give her husband’s mistress a rash.  The defendant was charged and plead guilty under 18 U.S.C. §229(a)(1), a part of the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998 statute which had been enacted to implement the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, an international treaty.  This statute makes it illegal for a person to, among other things, knowingly possess or use a chemical weapon.

On appeal, the Supreme Court unanimously held that the prosecutors overreached and that the conduct didn’t fit within the terms of the statute.  The Court found that the statute was meant to apply to terrorists or situations that involve national security, not mere domestic disputes.  A concurrence written by Justice Scalia questioned whether the federal government could use treaties to enact criminal statutes, writing that “the possibilities of what the Federal Government may accomplish, with the right treaty in hand, are endless and hardly farfetched.”

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