Tuesday, October 25, 2011

GARNETT v. STATE case brief


Garnett; the defendant had consensual sex with a 13 year old girl. (IQ of 52, 3 standard deviations below the norm), 20 years old. Met a girl through a friend, she was 13, they started talking on the phone. One evening, wishing for a ride home, he approached her house, she told him to climb up to her window, they both talked, engaged in intercourse, Raymond left the following morning. Nine months later she gave birth to his son and the defendant was charged under a Maryland statue which made it a felony to have intercourse with a girl under the age of 14 if the man is 4 years older than the girl. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 5 years of probation. Raymond acted with the belief that she was 16 according to evidence twice proffered at court.

Did the state need to prove that the defendant had knowledge of the actual age of the victim in order to convict him under the statue?

[Second Degree Rape] Page 186
[Trial Court] “Under 693, the only two requirements as relate to this case are that there was intercourse, and that... Ms Frazier was under 14 years of age and that...Def. was at least four years older than she.” “It is in the Court’s opinion a strict liability offense.”

[Appellate Court]
“We think it sufficiently clear, however, that Maryland’s second degree rape statute defines a strict liability offense that does not require the State to prove mens rea; it makes no allowance for a mistake-of-age defense.”

APPLICATION: The court ruled that the legislature intended the statue to be a strict liability statue, even though it does not state that explicitly in the wording of the statue. The court stated that the statue did not require mens rea on the part of the defendant. The court further ruled that the Maryland legislature had the complete discretion in making the defendant's offense a strict liability crime. So the conviction was affirmed.

“Second degree rape.
a) What constitutes.--A person is guilty of rape in the second degree if the person
engages in intercourse with another person:
1) By force or threat of force against the will and without the consent of the
consent of the other person; or
2) Who is mentally defective, mentally incapacitate, or physically helpless, and the person performing the act knows or should reasonably know the other person is mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless; or,
3) Who is under 14 years of age and the person performing the act is at least four years older than the victim.
b) Penalty.--Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and upon conviction is subject to imprisonment for a period of not more than 20 years.

Dissenting Opinions
Eldridge, Judge
-Agrees that Def.’s mistake about age of partner is not a defense to prosecution under s.463(a)(3). (This does not mean that the statute contains no mens rea requirement at all.)
-”There are other offenses (also unfortunately often called “strict liability” offenses) where the legislature has dispensed with a knowledge requirement in one respect, but has not intended to impose criminal liability regardless of the Def.’s state of mind.”
-Maximum of 20 years imprisonment = strong evidence that Gen. Assembly did not intend to create a pure strict liability offense.
-In a typical statutory rape situation, Def. has knowledge and intent of the acts, and knows those acts are immoral, and is also aware that consent doesn’t change that.
-In this case, Def. honestly believed/mistaken that the girl was over the age of consent.
“The traditional view: those who engage in sex with young persons do so at their peril, assuming the risk that their partners are underage.” -- It seems to me that the above-mentioned knowledge factors, and particularly the mental ability to appreciate that one is taking a risk, constitute the mens rea of the offense.
Robert M. Bell, Judge
-To hold that s.463(a)(3) does not require the state to prove that Def. possessed the necessary mental state to commit the crime (knowingly engaged in sexual relations with a female under 14) or that a Def. may not litigate that issue in Defense, “offends a principle of justice so rooted in the traditions of conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental” and is, therefore, inconsistent with due process.

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