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Strict Liability

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Strict Liability Strict liability is basically being guilty of something when you didn’t set out to intentionally cause harm to someone. According to Samaha, “it is not necessary for mens rea to be present, in other words you do not have to have a guilty mind to be guilty of strict liability (Samaha, 2011).” Due to strict liability you can be found guilty of a crime when you did not purposely participate in any criminal act. The problem with strict liability is that due to others actions you can be guilty of something you would have never voluntarily participated in. According to Cornell, “crimes related to possession of property and statutory rape charges are big areas of concern in criminal law strict liability charges (Strict Liability).” Can you imagine if you were a guy that was 25 and you met a girl that told you she was 19 and you started dating her? During your relationship you had consensual sexual relations with the girl on multiple occasions, and then the police show up at your door with a warrant for your arrest. It seems the girl’s parents have found out about your relationship with their daughter and they are having you charged with statutory rape because their daughter is only 16 years old. In the state of Florida, “someone that is at least the age of 16 but is not yet 18 years old can in no way consent to participating in any type of sexual activity if the other participate is aged 24 or older (Statutory Rape).” In today’s world it is not uncommon for children, especially girls, to appear much older than they actually are. I am in no way condoning sexual relations with a minor, but I have seen instances where there were charges filed and as a law enforcement officer I would have never guessed the child was a juvenile because of their appearance. Is it fair for someone to now have a criminal record because they didn’t ask for an identification card to verify age after they were given an age? Legally, the answer is yes, even though the defendant had in no way set out to commit statutory rape, they are guilty. I have seen cases where I thought someone being labeled a sexual offender and having their entire future ruined was unfair, because they were misled by someone else, but it happens. I understand there has to be a line somewhere and juveniles cannot be held accountable for their actions in these situations but it seems there should be some sort of accountability if not by the child then by the parents. Another example of strict liability is shown in case State v. Loge (Min. 2000). The case basically stems around an open container law in Minnesota. Loge borrowed a truck that belonged to his father to go to work one evening. When Loge was on his way home from work he was stopped by two police officers for allegedly speeding. During the stop an open beer bottle was found by one of the officers along with an opened, empty beer can and a full beer can. After several field sobriety tests given to Loge it was determined that he was not driving under the influence but he was charged with open container even though it was not his truck and he claimed now knowledge of the containers. Loge was convicted of the offense and filed an appeal that was affirmed in the Court of Appeals to which he appealed again to the Minnesota Supreme Court and they also affirmed (State v. Loge, 2000).” While it may seem unfair to be charged and convicted with something that you had nothing to do with, this is one of those cases what that is exactly what happened. Minnesota’s legislature made it necessary that someone that is driving a vehicle becomes responsible for the content of the vehicle while it is under their control even if they do not own it or have prior knowledge of anything in it. As a law enforcement officer you hear so often that “I didn’t know, it’s not my car”, these laws make it easier to charge those that you know are guilty but it also puts responsibility on people to be aware of their surroundings and to be mindful of what they accept responsibility for.…...

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