• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Strict Liability. I shall look at different cases in order to justify whether the offence of strict liability is effective in promoting greater vigilance.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

According to the criminal law, the actus reus and the mens rea are general requirements to constitute a criminal offence; however, where the offence is of strict liability, there is no requirement for the proof of mens rea. The negation of mens rea means that an individual may be convicted regardless of their mental state, whether they behaved reasonably or not. This has stirred up much debate on the justification of a strict liability offence as some view it as necessary to ?promote the objects of the statute? and is a matter of ?social concern?; whilst others have taken the view that strict liability is too strict an offence and should be abolished. In this answer, I shall look at different cases in order to justify whether the offence of strict liability is effective in promoting greater vigilance. Firstly, statutes often contain unambiguous wordings in guiding courts as to whether mens rea is required in the interpretation of statutes. The courts then has the discretion to determine whether there should be a presumption of mens rea in establishing an offence; the courts must consider a few factors in determining whether the offence of strict liability should be inferred from the statute. ...read more.

Middle

The courts are unlikely to give a strict liability sentence but rather they are more likely to read in the requirement of mens rea. In the case of Sweet v Parsley, a woman let her farmhouse to students; upon investigation by the police, cannabis was found. Although the woman had no reason to know that there was cannabis present in her property, she was convicted under strict liability as no mens rea was required. However the House of Lords held that the stigma attached to drugs was too grave, thus mens rea should be read in. Therefore, there should be a presumption of mens rea and so Sweet?s criminal conviction was quashed. It was also held that where the offence was of a great concern to society, the courts are unlikely to read in the requirement of mens rea, but instead give a sentence of strict liability. In Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain v Storkwain, a pharmacist was presented a forged prescription by the patient, nevertheless the pharmacist supplied the patient with the drugs. ...read more.

Conclusion

Convictions would also be held where an individual had not acted unreasonably and have exercised reasonable care. Furthermore, it has been viewed to be unjust in convicting individuals who were completely unaware that an offence is being completed, such as in Pharmaceutical. Plus, a conviction under strict liability would not be an effective deterrent because defendants may very well be unaware that an offence is being completed, therefore they will be unable to take steps to prevent it anyways. The element of overdeterrence associated with a strict liability conviction discourages people from engaging in socially beneficial commercial activities. To conclude, although convictions under strict liability may seem unfair, it is ultimately necessary to protect the public from potential harm should the offence have occurred. The fact that a high standard of care is required means that society would be better protected from harms such as pollution and drunk driving. The fact that a conviction under strict liability does not require mens rea means that the law would be more easily enforced and so prevent those who have participated in a dangerous act to escape liability. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Criminal Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Criminal Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How effective was the defence of intoxication?

    3 star(s)

    He could not be found guilty of murder as intention to kill or cause GBH could not be established.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Briefly explain the meaning of, and reasons for, strict liability as a criminal offence

    3 star(s)

    The second presumption being that if the offence is 'truly criminal,' as per the case of B V DPP, then judges will decide it not one of the strict liability offences. The third presumption being that the offence is a statutory offence and it must be clear and have an implication of the effect of a statute.

  1. A person who genuinely attempts to commit a criminal offence and fails still deserves ...

    The acts were more than merely preparatory to the commission of the intended offence and therefore he should be punished as if the package really contained the drugs. Lack of punishment for a genuine attempt to commit a criminal offence will in some cases give incentive and opportunity for the

  2. Human rights in Britain

    another case in which the right to respect of private and family life (Article 8) was the case of Naomi Campbell and Sara Cox, in this case two celebrities claimed that their Human Rights were being breached and successfully stopped media coverage about their personal affairs.

  1. Nina runs a burger bar. She puts up a sign in the window saying ...

    burgers' by attracting more customers and therefore money through their purchases and her vegetable oil claim could also be intention to make a gain for herself, as she is increasing her customer base to vegetarians, as Prafal's case, and more health conscious eaters.

  2. List and explain the six most important cases for the law on insanity, explaining ...

    Had this argument been accepted, then only mental illness would be accepted for insanity. However Lord Devlin held that ?The Law is not concerned with the brain but with the mind, in the sense that ?mind? is ordinarily used, the mental faculties of reason, memory and understanding.

  1. Explain what is meant by the term causation in criminal law and assess how ...

    The chain of causation can be broken by a novus actus interveniens this includes an act of a third party, the victims own act or a natural but unpredictable event. In order to break the chain of causation so that the defendant is not responsible for the consequence, the intervening act must be sufficiently serious enough.

  2. Explain the meaning of Actus reus and mens rea

    Woollin is when the defendant did not want the particular outcome but the jury believe he was virtually certain that it would occur. For example, the jury would have needed to decide whether Woollin wanted to kill or cause GBH to his son or whether he was virtually certain that

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work