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.