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Law Dictionary


noun sci·en·ter \sī-ˈen-tər\

Legal Definition of scienter

  1. 1 :  knowledge of the nature of one's act or omission or of the nature of something in one's possession that is often a necessary element of an offense <the scienter element constitutionally required for an obscenity statute — Wall Dist. v. Newport News, 323 S.E.2d 75 (1984)>; also :  intent to engage in particular especially criminal conduct <a few environmental statutes…do away altogether with the need to prove scienter…requiring no proof of criminal intent whatsoever — R. J. Kafin et al.>

  2. 2 :  a mental state in fraud (as securities fraud) that is characterized by an intent to deceive, manipulate, or defraud

Origin and Etymology of scienter

Latin, knowingly, from scient- sciens, present participle of scire to know

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of a yellow-green or bluish-gray color

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