Explain the Arguments for and Against Strict Liability Offences Essay

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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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An example of this is the Callow v Tillstone (1900) case where a butcher took a vets advice in to account on whether the carcass was healthy enough to be eaten. After examination of the carcass the vet advised the butcher that it was ok for human consumption, thus the butcher put it up for sale. However, it was not fit enough to be eaten. This was a strict liability offence causing the butcher to be sentenced even though he was not at fault as he had taken full measure to ensure the carcass was fully examined before placing it on the market.
Many would argue that strict liability violates one of the fundamental principles of criminal liability that derives from the latin ‘actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea’ which translates that an act does not make a man guilty of crime, unless his mind is also guilty, as stated by Lord Hailsham in Haughton v Smith [1975] AC 476. Therefore, strict liability which requires no proof of mens rea with respect to atleast one element of actus reus, surely violates this principle in criminal liability as when punishing a man generally requires both an actus reus and a mens rea.
Although there may be a small penalty that comes with strict liability offences, a defendant may still be punished through the humiliation that goes with being convicted of a criminal offence. Due to such a conviction, the reputation and dignity of a defendant may potentially be ruined and their livelihood affected. Since this is