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Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly, Crim Defense Atty
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1805
Experience:  CA Atty since 1976, primarily criminal law. 150+ jury trials.
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What does strict construction mean and how does or should

Resolved Question:

What does "strict construction" mean and how does or should it apply to law and a criminal defendant?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Jim Reilly replied 7 years ago.
HelloCustomerand welcome to JustAnswer.

"Strict construction" is a principle of legal interpretation which means essentially that any court considering a statute or a constitutional provision should read it very narrowly rather than giving it an expansive interpretation.

Criminal statutes are generally construed very narrowly -- that is, "strict construction" is applied to them -- as a matter of public policy. The reason, of course, is that people should be subjected to criminal prosecution only if they had fair notice of what conduct is criminal. And that objective can be achieved only by applying "strict construction" to the interpretation of criminal statutes.

In other words, it is generally not enough for a court to say, "well, I know what the legislature meant". Criminal liability can only be attached to conduct which is clearly and unequivocally covered by the statutory language.

Edit: After I posted the foregoing, your optional and already tried information showed up on the screen. Now I'm unclear exactly what you are looking for. The concept of "strict construction" would not seem to have any application to the situation you have described and, in particular, I don't see how a criminal defendant can be "denied" strict construction in the context of ineffectiveness of counsel.

Thanks for asking your question here on JustAnswer. If you can clarify the situation for me, I will give you a further response.
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