scienter n[Latin, knowingly, from scient- sciens , present participle of scire to know]
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 element constitutionally required for an obscenity statute "Wall Dist. v. Newport News , 323 S.E.2d 75 (1984)"]
: intent to engage in particular esp. criminal conduct [a few environmental statutes…do away altogether with the need to prove …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
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.