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Re: On the crime bill and remailers
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> SOLONg discusses the "scienter" requirement in various laws. I believe
> this refers to the legal requirement that you know you are breaking the
> law in order to be breaking the law (so to speak). The export restrictions
> we discuss so much here also have this requirement. If you drive across the
> border with your pickup truck full of ammunition, the government has to
> prove that you knew it was illegal to do so in order to convict you.
In general, scienter/mens rea requirements mean that you must have intended
a particular action (or failure to act) - the question is about your
understanding of the facts of a particular situation, not the legal status
of a particular situation. Given your example, it's illegal to drive
across the border, knowing your pickup contains ammunition - whether or
not you believe your actions are legal. It's not illegal to drive across
the border with a box full of ammunition if you thought you were carrying
a box full of clothes.
The old saw "ignorance of the law is no excuse" is basically accurate.
Good-faith reliance on legal advice from competent counsel won't even
save you. (but it might get you a malpractice judgement/settlement).
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