CRM/LAW C144 Lecture 6: Mens Rea and Strict Liability (04/20/17)

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University of California - Irvine
Criminology, Law and Society

LECTURE 6 Thursday, April 20, 2017 Mens Rea and Strict Liability Is it possible to have crimes with multiple levels of mens rea? Heres a hypothetical statute: o Whoever sells intoxicating liquor to one whom he knows to be a policeman and whom he should know to be on duty is guilty of a misdemeanor o Strict liability Doesnt matter if its considered and intended to be a gift rather than a sale, as long as there is some money transaction involve If you have an undercover policeman come in wearing street clothes, and the bartender doesnt know hes a cop and sells him intoxicating liquor, he isnt guilty So he has to have a unreasonable belief that this person is not a cop A reasonable, subjective belief that he is not on duty is a defense (e.g.) street clothes, not in uniform An unreasonable belief that he is not on duty is not a defense Should know, not actually know Motive and intent are not the same thing and should not be confused o Motive can be used to establish intent, but theyre still not the same o Motive alone is not enough Mens Rea and Mistake Regina v. Prince Defendant was convicted of taking an unmarried girl under 16 years of age (Annie Phillips, 14 at the time, told the defendant that she was 18, and the defendant honestly believed that statement) out of the possession and against the will of her father o Take they eloped and had sexual relations Lack of consent is established by age Lack of specific intent, reasonable belief, mistake of fact Convicted because the act was wrong in itself The argument is that hes harming society; the issue is protecting society Traci Lords Michigan license that says shes 21 o Got involved in the porn industry o It turns out she wasnt 21 SCENARIO: Reasonable belief that shes over 21 o VCRs that say shes over 21, a person of trusted expertise says shes over 21 o But she still isnt 21, so its statutory rape In most jurisdictions today, it is a strict liability
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