A perception of the facts required for a crime is "knowledge" in criminal law.
Above all, it is the burden of the Commonwealth to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time of the offense the defendant knew something.
This requires jurors to evaluate the defendant’s state of mind during the time in question. In everyday affairs, individuals look to the actions of others in order to determine a state of mind.
Jurors may consider ANY of the following in determining if the defendant acted with “knowledge”of something (ONE OR MORE):
Take contraband in plain view as an example. When contraband is in open view, it may be reasonable to infer that the person knew it was there.
YES, legal knowledge must be personal.
Jurors can look to all the surrounding circumstances of the case in question in determining reasonable inferences about what the defendant knew.
However, in the end jurors must determine NOT what a reasonable person WOULD have known, but what the particular defendant actually DID OR DID NOT know at the time.
A defendant does not need to know the law.
Moreover, the requirement that the defendant’s act must have been done “knowingly” to be a criminal offense means it must have been done voluntarily and intentionally, and not because of mistake, accident, negligence or another reason.
However, it is NOT necessary that the defendant have known that there is a law that makes it a crime to engage in that action, since generally, ignorance of the law is NOT an excuse for violating the law.
Knowledge, even when it is an element of the offense in question, does NOT always need to be alleged in the criminal complaint.
Note that in a possession of obscene material complaint, due to the ambiguous nature of obscene material, knowledge must ALWAYS be alleged.
Moreover, with an illegal possession of a firearm complaint knowledge does NOT need to be alleged in the possession complaint.
“Willful blindness”is a deliberate failure to make a reasonable inquiry of wrongdoing despite suspicion or an awareness.
When it is an element of an offense, “willful blindness”is legally relevant when:
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