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Prosecuting the Undead: Federal Criminal Law in a World of Zombies

61 UCLA Law Review Discourse 44

13 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2013 Last revised: 23 Jul 2013

Michael L. Smith


Date Written: April 22, 2013


Adam Chodorow’s recent essay, Death and Taxes and Zombies, has alerted the legal world to the dangers posed by the looming zombie apocalypse. Chodorow successfully demonstrates that existing tax laws are woefully inadequate in a world where the undead outnumber the taxpaying living. In this Essay, I argue that while tax law may be ill suited to address the zombie apocalypse, federal criminal law offers an alternative approach to solving the problems that Chodorow identifies. In fact, the only plausible explanation for the existence of seemingly pointless features of federal criminal law is that these features are precautions for this imminent disaster. The extensive scope of the federal criminal law, its frequent use of low or nonexistent mens rea requirements, and federal laws concerning mandatory victim restitution create a legal structure that can effectively transfer resources from the undead to the living. Until the zombies arrive, these features will remain largely ineffective.

Keywords: Criminal Law, Strict Liability, Criminal Restitution

Suggested Citation

Smith, Michael L., Prosecuting the Undead: Federal Criminal Law in a World of Zombies (April 22, 2013). 61 UCLA Law Review Discourse 44. Available at SSRN:

Michael L. Smith (Contact Author)

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