In United States v. Khattab, the Seventh Circuit identified a split between the circuits as to the mens rea required by the statute that criminalizes possessing or distributing precursor chemicals to illegal drugs. The relevant mens rea is “knowingly, or having reasonable cause to believe[.]” While the Tenth Circuit interprets “having reasonable cause to believe” to mean that a defendant must have something close to actual subjective knowledge that a chemical will be used to manufacture methamphetamines, the Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits interpret “having reasonable cause to believe,” to mean that an objective standard can be applied. The Seventh Circuit declined to interpret the standard, finding that Khattab had actual knowledge the pseudoephedrine he sold would be used to manufacture methamphetamines. Nonetheless, this Comment explores the rationales of all the Circuits. It recommends that the Seventh Circuit, and the Supreme Court if applicable, side with the Tenth Circuit and interpret the mens rea requirement strictly. It further argues that only the strict interpretation is appropriate given the purpose of mens rea in our legal system.
Anne M. Walker,
Policing Thought: United States v. Khattab and the Mens Rea Requirement of 21 U.S.C. § 841,
Seventh Circuit Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/seventhcircuitreview/vol4/iss1/8