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The Champion

November 2017 , Page 13 

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NACDL News: NACDL Lauds Senate Introduction of Strong Criminal Intent Legislation

By Ivan J. Dominguez, Alexandra Funk, and Ian Nawalinski

Read more NACDL News columns.

On Oct. 2, 2017, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), David Perdue (R-GA), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced important legislation to address the erosion of the criminal intent, or mens rea, requirement in federal criminal law, the Mens Rea Reform Act of 2017. As explained in a news release issued by Sen. Hatch’s office, this bill “would set a default intent standard for all criminal laws and regulations that lack such a standard … [and] would ensure that courts and creative prosecutors do not take the absence of a criminal intent standard to mean that the government can obtain a conviction without any proof of a guilty mind.” Sen. Hatch also delivered a speech about the importance of mens rea reform on the floor of the U.S. Senate, citing support from NACDL, the Federal Defenders, and others.

For many years, there has been a drift away from the core requirement that the government prove some sort of culpable criminal state of mind to commit

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  • Media inquiries: Contact NACDL's Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan J. Dominguez at 202-465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org
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