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Utah Code 76-2-102 - Strict Liability - Culpable Mental State Required


Under Utah Code 76-2-101, criminal liability can be imposed for culpable mental states ranging from intentional conduct to criminal negligence. Not every statute defining a criminal offense contains a specific reference to a required mental state. But the mere absence of a specified mental state does not mean that the crime does not require proof of a culpable mental state.

Instead, under Utah Code 76-2-102, if the statute defining the crime does not specifically state the required culpable mental state, then the crime will require at a minimum proof of a reckless mental state. Where recklessness is the minimum required mental state required, proof of the higher mental states associated with intentional or knowing conduct is also sufficient. (This is also consistent with Utah Code 76-2-104, which establishes that proof of a higher culpable mental state is sufficient to prove a lower culpable mental state.)

Strict Liability

Most crimes require a combination of both prohibited conduct (actus reus) as well as a culpable mental state (mens rea). But for some criminal offenses, a defendant may be convicted without any evidence regarding the defendant's mental state. Such crimes are often referred to as "strict liability" offenses.

Under Utah Code 76-2-102, an offense will only be treated as a strict liability crime "if the statute defining the offense clearly indicates a legislative purpose to impose criminal responsibility for commission of the conduct prohibited by the statute without requiring proof of any culpable mental state."

Many relatively minor traffic-related offenses under Title 41, Chapter 6a of the Utah Code are treated as strict liability crimes. Certain administrative offenses are also treated as strict liability crimes. These are generally less-serious crimes.

But there is another set of very serious felony offenses under Utah law that are treated as strict liability crimes. This group of crimes includes offenses sometimes referred to as "statutory rape" crimes, child kidnapping, and other crimes involving minor victims (under the age of 18 years). See, Utah Code 76-2-304.5.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerA criminal conviction can carry serious consequences. Even a misdemeanor charge can carry the potential for jail time and substantial fines. Felony charges carry possible prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. If you are facing prosecution for criminal charges in Utah, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help ensure the best results for your case.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has protected his clients' rights in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases, ranging from the most serious felony charges on the books to less-serious misdemeanor charges. He has a track record of achieving real results.

Mr. Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation.

RELATED CRIMINAL CODE SECTIONS
Utah Code 76-2-101 - Actus Reus and Mens Rea
Utah Code 76-2-304 - Mistake of Fact and Ignorance of Law Defenses
More Utah Criminal Code Provisions


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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