scienter (sI-en-t[schwa]r or see-), n. [Latin “knowingly”]

1. A degree of knowledge that makes a person legally responsible for the consequences of his or her act or omission; the fact of an act’s having been done knowingly, esp. as a ground for civil damages or criminal punishment. See KNOWLEDGE; MENS REA . [Cases: Criminal Law 20; Negligence 212, 302. C.J.S. Criminal Law §§ 31–33, 35–39; Negligence§§ 44, 46–55, 913.]

2. A mental state consisting in an intent to deceive, manipulate, or defraud. • In this sense, the term is used most often in the context of securities fraud. The Supreme Court has held that to establish a claim for damages under Rule 10b-5, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted with scienter. Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 U.S. 185, 96 S.Ct. 1375 (1976). [Cases: Securities Regulation 60.45. C.J.S. Securities Regulation § 217.]

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