Mens Rea and State Crimes
September 4, 2012John S. Baker, Jr.
The 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.