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Criminal LawText, Cases, and Materials

Criminal Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (10th edn)

Jonathan Herring
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date: 30 November 2023

p. 2024. Strict Liabilitylocked

p. 2024. Strict Liabilitylocked

  • Jonathan HerringJonathan HerringProfessor of Law, Exeter College, Oxford


A strict liability offence is one where it is not necessary to prove any mental state of the defendant. All that needs to be shown is that the defendant caused a particular result or carried out a particular act. The courts will only interpret the offence to be one of strict liability where Parliament has made it quite clear that there is no mens rea requirement for the offence. There are some offences which just require proof that the defendant possessed a prohibited item. This chapter discusses the offences that are strict liability; when a court will not presume mens rea; what mens rea will be presumed; the Human Rights Act 1998 and strict liability offences; common law defences and strict liability offences; possession offences; and the arguments for and against strict liability.

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