Law Strict Liability

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(a) When securing a criminal conviction the courts will assess three areas comprising of mens rea, which describes the guilty mind, actus reus that describes the guilty act and lastly the defence, which looks at the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s actions and state of mind. Cases of strict liability are often referred to as regulatory offences or quasi criminal offences and are created by statute. They require no mens rea, the defendant is held responsible for the crime regardless of his intentions. Without the presence of mens rea, it is the act itself that is illegal; this then interferes with a defence (most strict liability crimes only have a rebuttable presumption i.e. if the defendant had an honest belief). In the case of DPP v Harper [1997] 1 WLR 1406 the court held that insanity was not a defence as it requires mens rea and as a strict liability crime is not valid. Most traffic offences are strict liability, i.e. speeding, where a ticket is issued regardless of whether or not you thought you were within the speed limit. Cases of Statuary Rape also hold the defendant strictly liable even if the defendant believed the victim to be of the age of consent, for example the case R. v G [2008] UKHL 37 where the appellant held that the complainant had told him she was 15. The court held that regardless of his reasonable belief, this was a strict liability crime under section 5 of the sexual offences act 2003. This case (as have many others) also raised several interesting issues regarding infringements of articles 6(1)/ (2) (due to strict liability) as well as article 8 (as the appellant himself a child) of The Human Rights Act 1998. It’s important to note that strict liability differs from absolute liability in that in a mistake of fact or an honest belief are not accepted defences. (b) Statues that are strictly liable are not easy to determine. It
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