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The common law presumes that, unless Parliament indicated otherwise, the appropriate mental element is an unexpressed ingredient of every statutory offence. See the leading case of Sweet v. Parsley (1969) 53 Cr.App.R. 221, 224, [1970] A.C. 132, 148-149: '... there has for centuries been a presumption that Parliament did not intend to make criminals of persons who were in no way blameworthy in what they did. That means that whenever a section is silent as to mens rea there is a presumption that, in order to give effect to the will of Parliament, we must read in words appropriate to require mens rea ... it is firmly established by a host of authorities that mens rea is an essential ingredient of every offence unless some reason can be found for holding that that is not necessary.' 

New York law is instructive. A 'statute defining a crime, unless clearly indicating a legislative intent to impose strict liability, should be construed as defining a crime of mental culpability' (Penal Law § 15.15 [2]). If any material element of an offense lacks a mens rea requirement, it is a strict liability crime (Penal Law § 15.10). Conversely, a crime ...

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