State v. Nanowski

In State v. Nanowski, 56 Conn. App. 649, 746 A.2d 177, cert. denied, 252 Conn. 952, 749 A.2d 1203 (2000), the defendant argued that 31-71a et seq. was unconstitutional as applied to him because the increased penalty for conviction, from a misdemeanor to a felony, imposed by the 1993 amendments 5 to the statute, required that an inference of mens rea be read into General Statutes 31-71c. The Court rejected the defendant's argument, stating that "neither the United States Supreme Court nor our Supreme Court has held that the magnitude of the penalty determines the constitutionality of strict liability statutes." Id., 656. As the Court stated in Nanowski: "It is well established that a criminal statute is not necessarily unconstitutional because it imposes strict liability. Public policy may require that in the prohibition or punishment of particular acts it may be provided that he who shall do them shall do them at his peril and will not be heard to plead in defense good faith or ignorance . . . . The constitutional requirement of due process is not violated merely because mens rea is not a required element of a prescribed crime." Id., 654-55. The Court concluded in Nanowski that the defendant had failed to prove that 31-71a et seq. is unconstitutional. Id., 657.