It may come as a surprise to many in the bar, but some legislators in Con­gress, at the strong urging of federal prosecutors and even members of the media, are balking at bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring a default intent requirement kicks in where a federal criminal law’s intent requirement, or mens rea, is unclear or absent.

The question of intent, of course, is always crucial. That is one important experience we have witnessed in our combined 55 years as criminal defense lawyers. From working as ­appointed counsel for the poor, to representing people accused of every sort of crime, we have seen first-hand the steady erosion of the intent requirement.

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