October 18, 2011 - Essence of Criminal Law

The Essence of Criminal Law
The common law maxim regarding criminal law states, "The doing of an act does not make a person guilty unless he has a guilty mind" (actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea). This, the context of doing injury to someone, is the essence of criminal law. It is also understood by the more common Latin expression, mens rea, meaning 'a guilty mind" or an act intentionally executed, knowing it is wrong.

The goal of criminal law is to punish.

Where an offence is labeled as 'Strict Liability' a guilty mind is not considered necessary by the courts. But then is this still a criminal offence or does it come under the heading of quasi-criminal? This is then described as  a civil offence tried under criminal rules or a criminal offence tried under civil rules.

Where have I consented to this? Why have we no say in what the courts or the politicians decide? What happens if I don't agree to their new terms? Are the courts now under political control or are they under the rule of law?

Use what you read here as a part of your research to establish your understanding.
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