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Lat.: knowledge. Previous knowledge of operative facts; frequently signifies guilty knowledge. As used in pleadings, the term signifies that the alleged crime or tort was done designedly or with guilty knowledge. The term is usually employed in relation to fraud, and means a person's knowledge that he was making false representation, with intent to deceive.
EXAMPLE: A corporation files a registration statement, containing false representations, with the Securities and Exchange Commission so that the corporation may sell stock to the public. Applicable law holds a party liable if with scienter he or she signs a statement that contains false representations. The requirement of scienter means that the party must know of the false representations and know thtat the statemnt will be used to deceive others into purchasing stock.
see culpable; mensrea
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; ©
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