Towards a Redefinition of the Mens Rea of Rape
University of Glamorgan - Law School
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 23, pp. 379-404, 2003
Definitional problems in the law of rape prompted the recommendation by the Home Office Sex Offences Review Team (Setting the Boundaries: Reforming the law on sex offences, 2000) that the 'defence' of mistaken belief in the victim's consent should be denied to defendants unable to show that they took reasonable procedural care to establish consent: such failure would have amounted to recklessness. This article contends that this proposal did not go far enough in recognizing the moral culpability of those who make unreasonable mistakes in this context, but went too far in characterizing all those making such mistakes as reckless. It contends that the mens rea of rape should be defined in terms of three degrees of culpability: first degree rape would require knowledge as to the absence of consent, whilst second degree rape would need proof of recklessness as to whether the victim consents. Third degree-i.e. negligent-rape would be subject to a defence of mistaken belief in consent, provided it could be shown that the mistake was neither procedurally nor substantively negligent. The provisions of the Government's Sexual Offences Bill, 2003, are also found wanting; they will create a law in danger of generating miscarriages of justice whilst failing to perform the law's educative function of registering the wrongness of rape.
Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: February 29, 2008
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo4 in 1.031 seconds