Over-criminalization has remained a controversial subject in United States legislation. Over-criminalization refers to the aspect of the government codifying into law what can be regarded as ethical and moral obligation of citizens. The concept and the ensuing debate emanates from whether the government has the power to legislate morality. However, there are different ways in which the United States government has really created laws that govern morality. For example it is considered that sexual preference is a morality issue that should not be legislated by the state.
Proponents of over-criminalization, especially those leaning on conservative side argue that over-criminalization is meant to help citizens observe their moral obligation. In looking at the relationship between moral and legal principles, it is observed that while legal principles carry the weight of law in enforcement, moral principles depend on the consciousness or the voluntary will of the individual. Over-criminalization therefore tends to enforce moral principles like legal principles which in most cases bring crisis. In face of the perceived crisis of over-criminalization in the United States, the main question is whether the government has the authority over our moral principles.