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Guilty Acts, Guilty Minds$
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Stephen P. Garvey

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190924324

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190924324.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2021



(p.162) 4 Ignorance
Guilty Acts, Guilty Minds

Stephen P. Garvey

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins Lambert v. California, a 1957 U.S. Supreme Court case involving a woman charged with a crime she didn’t realize she was committing. Lambert violated a Los Angles ordinance making it a crime for convicted felons to remain in the city for more than five days without registering with the police, but she was unaware of her duty to register. It describes in more detail what the actus reus and mens rea requirements entail when applied to a defendant who didn’t realize she was committing a crime. As a preface to that effort it discusses and criticizes the maxim that ignorance of the law is no excuse. It then introduces a test, in relation to actus reus, for determining if a defendant who didn’t realize she was committing a crime could have realized she was (the Lex test) and then compares the actus reus requirement to the existing defense of insanity. It thereafter turns to a discussion of the mens rea requirement as applied to ignorant defendants, analyzing some hard cases, and then concludes with a discussion of tracing.

Keywords:   actus reus, mens rea, ignorance of the law, insanity

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