Absolute liability

Some strict liability offences are said to give rise to ‘absolute’ liability.

There are some strict liability  offences which are said to give rise to ‘absolute’ liability.  In these situations it is enough that the individual finds themselves in the situation that they are in or some may say ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’.

The case of Larsonneur 1933 is a good example of this ‘absolute’ liability or 'state of affairs offence'  form of offence.  In this case the defendant was being deported from Ireland back to the UK from where she had been deported as her permission to be in the UK had expired.  She was escorted back to this country by officials who then promptly arrested her on arriving back in the UK because  she was there without consent.   Her argument, that she did not want to be in the UK, did not assist her.  Absolute liability or state of affairs offences seem to fly in the face of our understanding of the principles of criminal liability which normally requires a voluntary act on the part of the accused.

Similarly in Winzar v Chief Constable of Kent 1983 the defendant, who was drunk, was removed from hospital premises against his will and placed in a police car on the public highway.  He was then arrested for being found drunk on the highway.

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