Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Series

Notre Dame Law School

Criminal Law

Mens rea

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 2 of 2

Full-Text Articles in Law

"Innocence" And The Guilty Mind, Stephen F. Smith Jan 2018

"Innocence" And The Guilty Mind, Stephen F. Smith

Journal Articles

For decades, the “guilty mind” requirement in federal criminal law has been understood as precluding punishment for “morally blameless” (or “innocent”) conduct, the goal being to define the mental element in terms that will protect offenders from conviction unless they had adequate notice of the wrongfulness of their conduct. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Elonis v. United States signals a significant shift in mens readoctrine, recognizing for the first time the potential for disproportionately severe punishment as a justification for heightened mens rea requirements. This long-overdue doctrinal move makes perfect sense because punishment without culpability and excessive ...


Proportional Mens Rea, Stephen F. Smith Jan 2009

Proportional Mens Rea, Stephen F. Smith

Journal Articles

This Essay makes the case for "proportional mens rea," a proportionality-based approach to mens rea selection. Proportional mens rea would provide proportionality safeguards that are otherwise entirely lacking in substantive criminal law and,as a practical matter, unavailable in constitutional law. Creating implied mens rea requirements, where necessary to ensure proportional punishment, is not a judicial usurpation of a legislative function. Rather, it is to take seriously the role that courts play, under both constitutional and substantive criminal law, to ensure that punishment "fits" the crime. Moreover, proportional mens rea would represent a needed counterweight to prosecutorial behavior whereas current ...