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Texas Law Review

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Wilful ignorance is employed in criminal law primarily, and most controversially, as a mental state that satisfies a required mens rea of knowledge. The practice of considering wilful ignorance a form of, or a substitute for, knowledge first appeared in and has evolved almost exclusively through case law, with little or no critical analysis. Courts now routinely read wilful ignorance-in all its various and sundry formulations-into statutes requiring knowledge, and they usually do so without any attempt to justify the practice as an exercise in statutory interpretation or a search for legislative intent.