The Federalist Society

Mens Rea and State Crimes

White Paper

September 4, 2012

John S. Baker, Jr.

Mens Rea and State CrimesThe public understanding of what is and is not a crime has eroded over time. The common law was clear: a crime requires the union of a prohibited act or actus reus and a guilty mind or mens rea. Increasingly, however, "strict liability" offenses requiring no proof of a mens rea are becoming more common. This article briefly reviews this development and proposals for addressing the trend at the state level.

Mens Rea and State Crimes  


The Federalist Society