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Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse Reporting, § 48.981(7) — Strict Liability

State v. David C. Polashek, 2002 WI 74, affirming in part and reversing in part2001 WI App 130
For Polashek: Nila J. Robinson

Issue: Whether § 48.981(7) is a strict liability offense.

Holding: Where the statute makes no reference to mental state — and none is made here — it is often deemed strict liability. Factors such as seriousness and nature of the offense and legislative history may lead the court to impose a scienter requirement. Those factors make this offense strict liability: intent is included in one section but not the pertinent one; the statute is regulatory in nature and aims at imposing a high standard of care; though the penalty (six months incarceration) is relatively harsh, strict liability has been found for much harsher punishments. ¶¶28-34.

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