The First Department determined a strict liability offense cannot serve as a predicate felony for felony assault. The defendant was charged with the unauthorized practice of medicine (Education Law 6512) which resulted in the serious injury of one victim and the death of another. Because the Education Law offense is a strict liability offense (no mens rea requirement), it cannot serve as the basis for felony assault:
An assault committed during the course of a felony that causes serious physical injury to the victim may be charged as felony assault under Penal Law § 120.10(4). The Court of Appeals has explained that, under the doctrine of constructive malice, the mens rea element of the assault charge is satisfied by the mens rea element of the predicate felony … . …
Education Law § 6512(1) does not contain a mens rea element and solely requires a voluntary act of the unauthorized practice of medicine … . Accordingly, Supreme Court correctly held that the felony of the unauthorized practice of medicine cannot serve as a predicate felony to support the felony assault charges.
Further, although the Penal Law states that a “statute defining a crime, unless clearly indicating a legislative intent to impose strict liability, should be construed as defining a crime of mental culpability” (Penal Law § 15.15), the felony of unauthorized practice of medicine was created by the legislature as part of a comprehensive regulatory scheme to require licensing for occupations that pose safety risks to the public. These malum prohibitum crimes are generally construed as strict liability crimes, as a mens rea element would negatively affect enforcement of these statutes and minimize their impact … . People v Mobley, 2016 NY Slip Op 07576, 1st Dept 11-15-16
CRIMINAL LAW (STRICT LIABILITY OFFENSE CANNOT SERVE AS A PREDICATE FELONY FOR FELONY ASSAULT)/UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF MEDICINE (STRICT LIABILITY OFFENSE CANNOT SERVE AS A PREDICATE FELONY FOR FELONY ASSAULT)/FELONY ASSAULT (STRICT LIABILITY OFFENSE CANNOT SERVE AS A PREDICATE FELONY FOR FELONY ASSAULT)