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Strict Liability Outline

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This is an extract of our Strict Liability document, which we sell as part of our Criminal Law Outlines collection written by the top tier of New York University School Of Law students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Criminal Law Outlines. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Strict Liability
Criminal liability imposed regardless of MR
Theme: presumption of MR requirement if common law analogue, SL only for public welfare offenses

MPC Framework (don't like SL, motivated by retributive concerns)
MPC 2.05:

No SL unless

Violations - minor crimes with only fines, no incarceration OR

Legislature passes new statute clearly asserting SL for certain crimes

Common Law Framework o
Criminalize acts that don't involve legal or moral wrongs without inquiring into mental state o
Look for indications of Congressional intent, expressed or implied, for crime to be strict liability or not o
SL offenses often involve use or sale of potentially harmful or inherently dangerous items and often are public welfare offenses

Liquor, food, sanitary, building, medicine, traffic laws o

Offense of "knowing conversion of gov property" requires MR

Because it does not fit in the public welfare box + related to theft (a common law/traditional crime) > no SL
Characteristics of strict liability crime

Public welfare offense/regulatory crimes

Does not target a specific person or object, only against general welfare

Offense is trying to protect public health, well-being, safety, lives by putting burden on person standing in responsible relation to a public danger
(language from Balint)

Involves an activity that congress wants to deter or incentivize careful handling to prevent harm

(1) Mass production operation

Ex. Pharmaceuticals, food distribution (Balint, Dotterweich)

(2) Inherently serious, dangerous, injurious nature causes high risk of danger,
NOT direct injury

Ex. Hand-grenades (Freed)

(3) Mass and far-reaching impacts on public (usually consumers)

(4) Sophisticated and specialized actors - on notice and in best position to avoid problems

(5) New crime or new regulatory regime, addressing new problem VS. history and tradition

Nature of crime not recognized by common law and addressing a new problem

Ex. Pharmaceutical drugs

NOT analogue of common law or traditional crimes

NOT theft/conversion, NOT guns

(6) Small punishment

High penalties/felony designation indicate Congress is punishing a wrongdoing that is more than posing a possible danger to greater society and intended a high burden of proof

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