Strict Liability - Essay

Strict Liability Essay

How Do We Justify The Imposition Of Strict Liability For Some Criminal Offences?

In criminal law, strict liability offences are those in which the mens rea does not have to be proven in order for a person to be found guilty provided one or more elements of the actus reus are present.
There are two types of strict liability that can be found.

The first type of strict liability found in criminal cases is that of absolute liability. So the defendant does not have to have the intention to commit an act or have any knowledge of the circumstances that makes an act a criminal offence.

The second type of strict liability is a more common type, with this type of strict liability it is at least necessary for the defendant to have intended to commit the act, but the fact that the offence is one of strict liability means that the defendant need have no knowledge of the circumstances that make his act a criminal offence.
An example which shows this is in the case of R V Prince (1875) within this case the defendant knew that the girl he took was in the possession of her father however he thought she was aged 18 and did not know that she was only 16. The result was that he was convicted because he had the intention to remove the girl from her father’s possession whether he assumed her age was 18 or something else. With this case we can clearly see that the mens rea was required for part of the actus reus and he had the necessary intentions. However the court held that knowledge of her age was not required, as on this aspect of the offence there was strict liability.

Some crimes can also be committed without any “mens rea”. These offences are known as strict liability crimes, and most of them have been created by statute.
Many people would argue that there has been much restructuring of the law with regards to strict liability and especially the law surrounding its use in criminal offences.
The first case to restrict the use of strict...