State v. Guminga
395 N.W.2d 344 (1986)

  • Guminga owned a restaurant. In a sting operation, an undercover 17 year-old went to the restaurant and ordered some liquor. The waitress served the liquor without asking for ID.
  • Guminga was charged with serving alcohol to a minor.
    • The prosecutor did not contend that Guminga approved of, or even knew of the waitress’ actions.
      • As the employer he still had vicarious liability.
    • The prosecutor argued that it was a strict liability crime, which requires no intent (aka mens rea).
  • Guminga made a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the Statute was a violation of due process. The Trial Court denied the motion. Guminga appealed and the Trial Court sent the question to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
  • The Minnesota Supreme Court found that the Statute did violate due process.
    • The Minnesota Supreme Court found that the Statute was a violation of due process because it contained the possibility of imprisonment.
      • The Court found that only crimes which result in a fine can carry strict liability.
      • “We find that in Minnesota, no one can be convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for an act he did not commit, did not have knowledge of, or give expressed or implied consent to the commission of.”
  • Although it isn’t true in all States, the general rule is that strict liability can only be used for crimes that do not carry the possibility of imprisonment.
    • There is a lot of debate on this issue, but the US Supreme Court has not yet ruled that strict liability for crimes with the possibility of imprisonment is unconstitutional.