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Establishing criminal liability

When a New Jersey criminal case is being heard, whether a defendant is held to be responsible could hinge on his or her mental state when the act was committed. To prove that a crime occurred, it must generally be shown that there was intent to commit a crime and that an action taken couldn't be seen as careless as opposed to criminal.

If an action is seen as merely negligent or unintentional, it is likely that a defendant will be liable only for civil penalties in a separate lawsuit filed by the party that was harmed. If a defendant is shown to have intended to commit a crime, he or she could face one or more criminal charges. However, there are times when a guilty mind does not need to be established.

Otherwise known as strict liability laws, they often involve crimes against minors such as statutory rape. Another example would be selling alcohol or cigarettes to someone who is under the legal age to purchase such a product. In the event of a strict liability law, it doesn't matter whether the person committing the act knew whether or not a crime was being committed. For instance, it wouldn't matter if a defendant thought a girl was of age when an illegal act occurred.

There are many penalties an individual could face if convicted of a crime. There are a variety of strategies that a criminal defense attorney can employ, depending upon the nature of the charges. For example, a conviction on theft charges requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of an item that was taken, and an attorney could argue that the defendant actually intended to return it.

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Rem Law Group, A Professional Corporation | 25 East Salem Street | Hackensack, NJ 07601 | Phone: 201-488-1234 | Fax: 201-488-3100 | Map and Directions