Strict Liability: Definition, Crimes & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Are Strict…
  • 0:42 Crimes
  • 1:01 Examples
  • 2:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

This lesson will teach you what constitutes a strict liability crime. Review the definition of strict liability and examine the various types of strict liability crimes. Then, look at some examples to gain a better understanding of this type of crime.

What Are Strict Liability Crimes?

Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket and thought 'that's not fair' because you were not paying attention and had no idea you were actually speeding? In other words, you had no intention of speeding, and it was a total accident. This type of offense is known as a strict liability crime.

Strict liability crimes do not require any mens rea, or being in the mental state to commit a crime, during the commission of a crime. In these crimes, simply doing the act, even if you had no intention to break the law, makes you guilty of the crime. Therefore, you will be held responsible for committing a crime no matter what, just because you committed the act.


Every jurisdiction is different with respect to what types of crimes they consider to be strict liability crimes. However, generally, the following crimes are treated as strict liability crimes:

  • Traffic offenses
  • Statutory rape
  • Possession of narcotics
  • Selling alcohol to a minor

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