WASHINGTON (CN) – The D.C. Circuit reversed the conviction of prominent antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan, who was arrested in September 2005 for holding an antiwar rally without a permit on the sidewalk in front of the White House.
Sheehan was charged with failing to comply with a National Park Service rule requiring protests of more than 25 people to obtain a permit in order to gather in front of the White House.
The circuit panel upheld the ordinance, but ruled that Sheehan’s conviction cannot stand because the government prosecuted the case as a strict-liability offense, and the district court failed to let Sheehan present evidence that she lacked the necessary mens rea, or criminal intent, to violate the ordinance.
The court reversed and remanded for a new trial, saying Sheehan had been “convicted of a crime that does not exist and prevented from offering a viable defense.”
The second trial will determine whether Sheehan must pay $75 in fees and fines. See ruling.