DWS Mens Rea. State v. McCallum.


Brief Brief: State v. McCallum 321 Md. 451 1990 

Issue: Mens Rea for driving while suspended.


if the State offers the record at any subsequent trial and there is an objection, the court should redact all portions of McCallum’s motor vehicle record which are not relevant to the charge at issue.” Id at 453

“we agree, that mens rea is required for the offense of driving while suspended, and that the trial judge erred in failing to so instruct the jury” Id. at 455

Deliberate ignorance requires a conscious purpose to avoid enlightenment; a showing of mere negligence or mistake is not sufficient. Also, “deliberate ignorance” is a form of knowledge, not a substitute for knowledge. Therefore, if McCallum actually believed that his driver’s license was not suspended, he could not be guilty of the offense.I believe McCallum would have the required mens rea in the instant case if he was deliberately ignorant of his suspension. Deliberate ignorance should be established if McCallum believed it was probable that his license was suspended and if he deliberately avoided contact with the MVA to evade notice. For example, the trier of fact could find that: 1) based on his failure to pay district court fines and failure to appear in court, McCallum knew that it was probable that his license was suspended; 2) McCallum failed to fulfill his obligation to keep MVA apprised of his current address, or that he failed to contact MVA after learning that for several months his mail was destroyed, and 3) McCallum deliberately avoided contact with MVA to avoid receiving notice of the suspension of his driver’s license. These findings should justify a conclusion that McCallum’s intentional avoidance of notice of his suspension satisfied the mens rea requirement and was the equivalent of actual knowledge of his suspension.” Id at 461-62

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