An Overview Of Strict Liability Crime

Law Blog

What It Is

In most cases, a crime is only a crime if you intentionally committed the criminal act; the lack of intention or knowledge can be a defense in many cases. For example, if you are accused of stealing someone's phone, you may be able to defend yourself successfully if you can prove that you honestly believed that the phone was yours (maybe you had a similar model in the same color).

However, your intention or lack of it doesn't matter if you have been charged with a strict liability crime. In this case, the prosecution just has to prove that you committed the alleged act, and you will be convicted; proving that you did not intend to commit the act or crime won't help you.


A few examples of strict liability crimes will make it clearer; here are some of those examples:

Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is the act of having sex with a minor, which is defined as anyone who hasn't reached the age of consent. If you have been charged with statutory rape, then all the prosecution has to prove is that you had sex with the alleged victim and that the victim hasn't reached the age of consent in that state. Once those two elements have been proven, then it doesn't matter whether you thought the person was an adult; you can still be convicted.

Driving Over the Speed Limit

Driving over the speed limit, commonly called speeding, is a criminal misdemeanor in many states. Speeding is also a strict liability crime, which means you can be convicted of it even if you ever intended to drive over the prescribed speed limit or you didn't know you were going that fast. For example, if you are driving at 90mph in a 55mph area, and the prosecution has proved it, your intentions won't matter much.

Supplying a Minor with Alcohol

 It is illegal to give or sell alcohol to a minor. When it comes to alcohol consumption, anyone under the age of 21 is a minor. In some states, supplying alcohol to a minor is also a strict liability crime in that it doesn't matter whether you knew the person was a minor or not. It is up to you to confirm that anyone receiving alcohol from you is above the legal drinking age. You can't claim that they lied to you about their age or you thought they were older; that won't cut it with the judge.

Contact a criminal attorney for more help.


4 April 2018

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