sci·​en·​ter | \ sī-ˈen-tər \

Legal Definition of scienter

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

History and Etymology for scienter

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

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Cite this Entry

“Scienter.” Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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