Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on there should never be a strict liability element in a criminal law offence. In criminal law, strict liability is culpability for which mens rea or ‘guilty of the mind’ need not be proven, as regards to the multiple aspects comprising of the actus reus of the actual act of guilt, though awareness, recklessness, or intention, may be necessary while examining the other elements of a particular offence (Reid, 2008, 173-194). .
Criminal liability is a stringent provision since the defendants are likely to be convicted even if they were truly unaware of one of the multiple factors that labelled their acts as a criminal offence. The defendants, therefore, may not be .culpable .or guilty, in actual sense, i.e. absence of criminal negligence, the minimum blameworthy status within .men’s rea. Thus, one may argue that strict liability in a true sense is an inappropriate use of the criminal law which, owing to the grave implications that it have on a ‘wrongly’ convicted defendant, should be made permissible only for the regulating or governing serious crimes committed by the culpable miscreants. This article will critically examine various cases and analyse whether there should not be a strict liability element within a criminal law offence, and there should never be punishment without fault.
What are strict liability laws and their applications: Strict liability laws enacted in the 19th century aimed at elevating the working conditions and establishing standard safety norms within factories. The necessity to ascertain mens reas against the factory owners was not easy which culminated in very few prosecutions. The strict liability offences were created so as to tackle the factory owners more effectively and to ensure that the rate of convictions increased. In the modern context, common strict liability offences today include the driving over the prescribed speed limit and selling of alcohol to underage persons. Although the contentious issue here pertains to the fact that a person’s state of mind with which he/she acts should be made extraneous to his/her criminal liability (as opposed to the notions of how to deal with a defendant should he be proven guilty) it, however, does not represent the law. .This aspect is particularly relevant in the case of ‘real crimes’ where defendants are generally not held as criminally liable, for their conduct, if they are innocent (Ashworth and Blake, 1997). .
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