A strict liability offence is a crime where the prosecutor still has to prove the overt acts or omissions constituting the offense or causing the resulting harm but does not need to prove fault, negligence or criminal intent. Offenses of strict liability are those that can be committed without any knowledge of the wrongness of the act or proof of recklessness.
Strict liability offences have been defined by statute as crimes not because the acts or omissions are morally wrong, but because of public policy. The law has set a standard of behaviour, and any breach in that standard of behaviour imposed by the statute will result in criminal liability even in the absence of any criminal intent. Strict liability offences regulate activities that pose potential harm to public health, public safety and public morals.
These strict liability offenses are often prosecuted summarily as there is no requirement to prove criminal intent. It is sufficient for the prosecution to prove the fact of commission of the acts defined by law as a crime for strict criminal liability to attach.
One example of a strict liability offence is speeding. It is summarily prosecuted. Here, the police officer need only prove that the motorist operated his motor vehicle at a specific place and time beyond the speed limit prescribed by law and posted on the road and marked on the pavements.
There is no requirement for the police officer to prove that the motorist intended to speed or that he knew that he was driving beyond the speed limit. What is necessary is for the police to state that he had used a radar device and found that the motorist was speeding; or that a high-speed camera took a picture of the motorist and his motor vehicle while speeding.
The police need not prove that the motorist knew that he was driving beyond the speed limit. The police need not prove that the motorist drove his vehicle beyond the speed limit for any purpose.
This strict liability on motorists is demanded by the public interest—everybody uses public roads. The safety of pedestrians and motorists on public roads is of public interest. Driving on the roads is an activity that is legally controlled as only those who are of sufficient age, physical condition and training can be issued licenses to drive on public roads. A motorist who drives on the road has accepted that driving is an activity that is controlled because there is a potential for a high degree of harm involved in this activity.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.