Summary: S.2298 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.2298. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (11/18/2015)

Mens Rea Reform Act of 2015

This bill amends the federal criminal code to establish a default intent (state of mind) standard for a federal criminal offense, unless the provision of law that defines such offense specifically provides otherwise.

A federal criminal offense conviction under the default standard requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant acted intentionally and willfully with respect to each element of the offense. If a state of mind is not specified for an element of the offense, it must be shown that the defendant acted willfully. A person who acts "willfully" does so with the knowledge that the conduct is unlawful. The bill sets forth certain exceptions where the default standard shall not apply.

Additionally, the bill requires that when a provision of law identifies an intent standard but does not specify which elements of the offense the standard applies to, the identified standard must apply to all elements of the offense.