In today's criminal law system, people are usually only punished when they have a "guilty mind," which is known by the Latin term "mens rea." If you intentionally break the law, you are seen as having a guilty mind. But, there are a handful of crimes that don't require a mens rea. These crimes are called strict liability crimes.
As mentioned above, a strict liability crime is a crime that requires no mens rea. That is, they are crimes that doesn't require you to intend to do something wrong or morally blameworthy. In other words, you are held responsible regardless of your intention(s). Even though you don't have the guilty mind that usually makes a criminal morally blame worthy, you are held responsible for your actions.
The concept of a strict liability crime can be hard to understand. Here are some examples that may help clarify any confusion:
While it may seem unfair to criminally punish people for making apparently honest mistakes there is at least one justification. In most cases, the benefits to society of strictly enforcing these laws outweigh the costs of punishing someone who appears to be without blame.
If you are accused of a crime, contact a lawyer immediately. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise you of your rights and defenses. If you would like to learn more about strict liability crimes, a lawyer can be very helpful and inform you of the law in your area.
Last Modified: 04-08-2015 01:47 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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