Supreme Court Ruling Regarding Required State of Mind for a Crime

In Elonis vs. United States (decided 6-1-15), the US. Supreme Court held that criminal statutes require the actual mens rea or state of mind of the Defendant to be considered, not that of the alleged victim or that of a reasonable person. Furthermore, in a criminal case, it isn’t enough that a person knows what they are doing – they have to know that what they are doing is wrong – to be aware of  its criminality. The “presumption in favor of a scienter requirement should apply to each of the statutory elements that crimi­nalize otherwise innocent conduct.”