Criminal Intent Legislation Crucial to Ensuring Justice for All

The National Law Journal
02.29.16
In this opinion piece, co-authored by Timothy O'Toole, he discusses criminal-intent legislation, which he maintains is crucial to ensuring justice for all defendants. "It may come as a surprise to many in the bar, but some legislators in Congress, at the strong urging of federal prosecutors and even members of the media, are balking at bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring a default intent requirement kicks in where a federal criminal law's intent requirement, or mens rea, is unclear or absent," the authors said. "The point is not to continue to apply a lower standard of liability to the vast majority of defendants just because the proper standard would benefit more affluent and powerful defendants, but rather to lift the standard for all defendants. It is that vast majority -- predominantly minorities and the socio-economically disadvantaged, given the inequities in our criminal justice system -- that will be the primary beneficiaries of a default standard of intent in criminal cases."
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