Rule of lenity

By WORLDLawDirect  [September 2nd, 2011]

Under the common law rule of lenity, courts must strictly construe penal statutes in order to avoid a violation of the due process rights of the accused. Thus, in criminal cases where two reasonable interpretations of a penal statute exist, one inculpating and the other exculpating a defendant, a court must employ the less harsh reading.

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