A recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in a patent lawsuit may, somewhat surprisingly, have a major and destructive impact on federal criminal law. In Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB, the high court held that the "willful blindness" doctrine, which relieves a plaintiff of proving that the defendant actually knew that its actions were infringing, applies to certain patent infringement claims. The Court also implied that the doctrine properly applies in federal criminal cases, which would undermine traditional criminal-intent, or mens rea, protections against unjust criminal punishment. The result may be that more innocent Americans will face criminal conviction.
See also Debevoise (PDF, page 11).