strict-liability

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  • Strict liability crimes eliminate the need for a particular mens rea. An example of a strict liability crime is statutory rape. If a person over 18 has sexual relations with a person under 18, it doesn’t matter that they didn’t know their partner was under 18. There is no “knowing” requirement, or even a reckless or negligent requirement. In fact, the defendant could prove that they checked the ID of the partner and it said they were 19 and it looked real. Maybe it was real, and the birthdate was wrong! Even that doesn’t negate the fact that they are guilty under the law. They don’t have to know the age of their partner. If they are under 18, then they are guilty of statutory rape.
  • Watch the video posted for this week about using strict liability to prosecute herion dealers. The law in their state takes away the “intent to kill” in prosecutions of drug dealers. If they deal herion, even if they don’t do it with the intent to kill, they can be prosecuted for 1st degree murder.
  • So let’s talk about these laws. Is it fair to prosecute a drug dealer for murder if all they did was sell the drugs and had no intent to kill?
  • What about statutory rape? Why have these laws been passed with strict liability? Find an example of a case in the news where a person was prosecuted and convicted of statutory rape? What was their sentence?
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