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Re: On the crime bill and remailers
From: [email protected] (Greg Broiles)
> 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).
I don't know how true this is in general, but my research into the
arms export question indicated otherwise. Here is part of a posting I
sent to CP some time last year concerning a case in which the defendant
did in fact drive to Mexico with a truck load of ammunition:
> In U.S. v Lizarraga-Lizarraga, the appellate court wrote (in 541 F2d 826),
> "At trial and on appeal, the defendant admits that he purchased the
> ammunition and that he intended to export it to Mexico. His defense is
> bsed on the contention that he had no knowledge that his conduct violated
> the law. Hence, the appellant claims that to be found guilty under
> 22 U.S.C. 1934 [the predecessor to 22 U.S.C. 2778], the government must
> prove that he intended to violate the statute.... We agree, and hold
> that he was entitled to a specific intent instruction. Accordingly, we
> reverse his conviction and remand for a new trial."
> The court discusses several reasons for concluding that "willfully"
> implies a need to show specific intent, among them that the articles on
> the Munitions List are not obviously illegal to export, finally concluding:
> "Accordingly, we hold that in order for a defendant to be found guilty of
> exporting under 22 U.S.C. 1934, the government must prove that the
> defendant voluntarily and intentionally violated a known legal duty not
> to export the proscribed articles, and the jury should be so instructed."
Perhaps the arms export laws are worded differently than some others
and so the more stringent rules apply.