United States v. Int'l Minerals & Chem. Corp.,
402 U.S. 558 (1971)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Int'l Minerals & Chem. Corp., 402 U.S. 558 (1971)

United States v. International Minerals & Chemical Corp.

No. 557

Argued April 26, 1971

Decided June 1, 1971

402 U.S. 558


Appellee was charged by information with shipping sulfuric and hydrofluosilicic acids in interstate commerce and that it

"did knowingly fail to show on the shipping papers the required classification of said property, to-wit, Corrosive Liquid, in violation of 49 C.F.R. 173.437,"

issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 834(a). Section 834(f) provides that whoever "knowingly violates any such regulation" shall be fined and imprisoned. The District Court dismissed the information, holding that it did not charge a "knowing violation" of the regulation.

Held: The statute does not signal an exception to the general rule that ignorance of the law is no excuse. The word "knowingly" in the statute pertains to knowledge of the facts, and where, as here, dangerous products are involved, the probability of regulation is so great that anyone who is aware that he is in possession of or dealing with them must be presumed to be aware of the regulation. Pp. 560-565.


DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACK, WHITE, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which HARLAN and BRENNAN, JJ., joined, post, p. 402 U. S. 565.

Page 402 U. S. 559

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