Explain the Arguments for and Against Strict Liability Offences

1392 Words Dec 10th, 2012 6 Pages
Explain the arguments for and against strict liability offences
A strict liability offence is one where it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove any mens rea. In most cases of strict liability even if one did not have the intent to commit a crime, however reasonable, in relation to a particular element of the actus reus of an offence, they can still be convicted. This can be shown in reference to Prince and Hibbert. Prince (1875) the girl was taken by Prince even though he knew she was in the possession of her father as he believed she was 18. Mens rea was needed for him to be sentenced and this was recognized as he had the necessary intention to remove her. Hibbert (1869) the defendant had sexual intercourse with a 14 year old
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Having established the purpose of strict liability, it is evident as to why it can be seen as a controversial area in law making and this essay will outline some of the arguments for and against it that are commonly put forward on the effective enforcement of the law and the maintenance of standards.
Two of the main justifications usually given for the use of strict liability are that they encourage greater safety and improved standards of prevention, thus offering the public better protection from the risks involved in particular activities.
Strict liability offences also release the prosecution of the difficult task of proving mens rea as they do not have to spend time and effort proving it. Therefore this increases greater vigilance and administrative efficiency and deterring the effect of conviction and unsafe behaviour.
However, due to this idea of strict liability offences not requiring proof of fault leads to the simple moral claim of ‘is it right to punish a person who had no intent to commit a crime, and took precautions not to let anyone get harmed in any way, to still be convicted?’ This opens the argument against the use of strict liability as it suggests that no matter what the opposing says, strict liability is a criminal offence and it is not vigorously enforced. This in turn lowers the respect to law and the criminal justice system as it appears that the justice system cannot
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