What is strict liability? In the criminal law system that we presently follow, defendants are usually only punished if they are found guilty, or when there is requisite ‘mens rea.’ That is, the court renders punishment to only those who are found to be morally worthy of blame. An accused is deemed guilty if he is found to have broken the law intentionally. However, there are certain crimes, which do not require a mens rea, and such cases are known as the strict liability cases.
What is a strict liability crime?
A strict liability crime, as mentioned above is a crime that does not call for a mens rea. In other words, these crimes do not require the defendant to have done something that is wrong or that is morally blameworthy. That is, the accused can be held responsible even if he/she does not have a guilty mind that usually makes a crime morally wrong.
Strict liability examples
The strict liability crime can at times be a concept that is a little hard to understand. Given below are a few strict liability examples to help you understand this legal principle in a better way.
- Statutory rape law: Sexual intercourse with a minor is illegal according to this law. Here the defendant is guilty of a strict liability crime even if he/she believed that his/her partner was of a legally consenting age. Whether or not the offender intended to have sexual intercourse with a minor does not matter for it to be a crime.
- Traffic offenses are another example of the strict liability crime. Even if you believe that you were driving within the prescribed speed limits, you will still be given a speeding ticket if you had crossed it.
- An individual who sells alcohols to minors will be convicted of a strict liability crime even if he/she had believed that the minor was old enough to be buying alcohol.
How strict liability crimes are justified
Criminally punishing someone for making mistakes that were apparently honest and which has some kind of justification may seem very unfair at first thought. However, in the longer run, the benefits to society of enforcing such laws are far greater than the cost of punishing such an offender.
That was some information on strict liability crimes and its examples. For more info on the same, refer legal resources available online.Google+