Mistakes are made by everyone. However, what happens when a mistake is really an illegal act and you are charged with a crime? Is it possible for you to say you made a ‘mistake of law’? Do you know what a ‘mistake of law’ is and if it is a criminal defense?
Did you know that people are normally expected to be aware of the laws governing their community and state? But there are exceptions. A traffic ordinance was repealed, negating long standing parking protections in a downtown district. Can an unsuspecting motorist immediately be held accountable?
Were you aware that a ‘mistake of law’ defense can allow for misunderstandings and ignorance of certain laws in specific situations? But claiming ignorance of law after robbing a bank does not apply, however illegal acts in other circumstances do, such as when:
Of course no one can possibly know every single law as it is promulgated, changed or repealed. But that does not mean you will not get ticketed, arrested or charged with a crime in certain situations. To mount a ‘mistake of law’ defense, applicable mistakes must have been reasonable and made in good faith. A defendant cannot claim, for example, a ‘mistake of law’ defense and argue that he or she committed an illegal act because it was legal 200 years ago.
Other defensible mistakes can derive from “mistakes of fact.” This occurs when an illegal act is committed without the intent to cause harm. For example, if you exited a coffee shop with a laptop computer that looked identical to your own, but turned out to be another patron’s laptop, the act could be construed as stealing. However, an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney could argue that the laptops looked the same, and the event was a misunderstanding. In other words, an honest, reasonable mistake of fact occurred that lacked the intent to deprive another person of their property. Thus, no crime was committed.
If you or someone you know feel\ that you are being legally punished for a mistake, contact a qualified attorney to learn more about rights. Contact Kristie Cohen Law for experience, integrity, and results. Our firm intentionally keeps its caseload small so we can give each client the time and personal attention they deserve. We are equipped to handle all cases from a misdemeanor to major felonies. We work diligently for each client to get them the best possible outcome in each case.