Mistake and Mens Rea Default Rules Case: Regina v. Prince, L.R. 2 Cr. Cas. Res. 54 (1875); [p.

213-219]

Facts: Δ took 14 year old unmarried girl out of possession and against the will of her father. He was found guilty according to statute that stated that whoever shall take "an unmarried girl, being under the age of sixteen, out of possession of her father." However, jury also found on reasonable evidence that before Δ did so, the girl told him she was 18, and she looks older than 14, so it was reasonable for Δ to believe it. Issue: Whether when a statute makes an act a crime, but does not specify that it has to be knowingly committed, should the statute be presumed to include the knowing, guilty mind? - No. Reasoning: the statute does not specify that the act had to be committed knowingly, but only that it be committed. Court reasoned that the legislature did not intend to make it a crime only if it is knowingly committed. If he is taking the girl, then he is also taking the risk that she wasn’t over 16 - court also notes that if, however, he mistakenly believed he had the fathers consent, that would be different. RULE: Where a statute does not make mens rea an element of the crime, knowledge of the facts is irrelevant. Class Notes
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Blackburn - ok with SL Bramwell - the facts as Δ believed them still wrong, morally. So not SL. Damden - Δ guilty because facts as he believed them were wrong in civil law. Interfering with civil law right of father to have possession of his children. Brett - shouldn’t be guilty unless facts as Δ believed them constituted a crime

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