Unless you are well-versed and up-to-date with the intricacies of the law, it is not always clear what activity is illegal or not. This means the majority of people may not realize they are partaking in unlawful behavior, though this defense does not necessarily hold up in court. A judge will remind you that ignorance of the law is no defense to criminal charges. However, there may be exceptions to this rather controversial rule.
When Ignorance Doesn’t Work
As expected, there are obvious reasons this defense would not apply. For example, it is presumed an adult knows driving under the influence is illegal. The same applies to other crimes in which the illegality of the act is impossibly straightforward--such as violent crimes, armed robbery, arson, etc. One common scenario in which a mistaken fact defense is with a statutory rape case. Those accused generally argue they were unaware of their partner’s minor age and thus oblivious to breaking the law. This never holds in court.
Public Notice & Staying Informed
However, criminal laws must be publicly enacted through state or federal legislatures and when the government fails to provide adequate warning through public notice, citizens should not be held to these consequences. For example, if you commit a traffic violation but there was no indication or sign of this newly-enacted law, you may be able to plead your innocence. As law-abiding citizens, it is our responsibility to inform ourselves and respect the laws which govern our society, though we should not be held to impossible standards.
Contact Our Experienced & Determined Ventura Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is composed of Ventura criminal defense attorneys who are fearless in the face of any challenges or obstacles present in your case. Allow us to guide you through this intimidating process as effectively as possible so you can focus on moving forward with ease.
Contact us by calling (800) 295-1054.