Mistake of Fact as A Criminal Defense
January 8, 2020
Criminal Defense and Mistake of Fact
Sometimes in a criminal case, the defendant claims that because there was a misunderstanding surrounding the crime he or she did not have the intent of committing a crime. A misinterpretation or ignorance of certain factors in the case may be a defense a criminal defense attorney can use, called mistake of fact. This defense is mostly used for specific intent crimes or other charges that depend on the defendant knowing or intending to commit a criminal act.
The Mistake of Fact: Explained
The mistake of fact defense is used when there is a valid, honest mistake that could absolve the defendant of any charges. A defendant will claim a mistake when it is significant enough to show that there was a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding that proves there was no intent of committing a crime. A mistaken fact can prove that the defendant is not liable. This is an unusual defense and must be taken on by an experienced attorney. It is important that this mistake is not contradicted or tried as a legal strategy multiple times in a case.
How to Use The Defense
This defense most typically used in cases where the charges depend on the intent of the defendant. The mistake of fact defense works when there is a significant lack of knowledge or a misunderstanding that would prove the defendant had no intent of committing the crime.
Be Clear of Contradictions
When claiming a mistake of fact in a case, it’s important to note that the defendant can only claim a mistake once. If the defendant tries to claim it multiple times in a case, it puts the legitimacy of the mistake into question. It is also very important that the mistake is genuine and there are no contradictions to the mistake later on in the case.
Negating an Element
The mistake of fact defense may be used to negate a specific fact of the crime. If the defense proves that a certain fact or element of the crime was mistaken then it may disrupt the prosecution’s case and prove a non-guilty verdict or a lack of intent. This may work when there is proof that a significant fact in the case was truly mistaken.
Most people are unaware of this defense and defendants can only use it with a skilled attorney. These defenses are rare in courts because it is often not permitted by the judge. To use a mistake of fact defense, the defendant will need a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in this particular type of case. The criminal defense lawyer must prove that there was a significant lack of legal knowledge or mistaken information. There must be special circumstances surrounding the alleged crime or enough proof that the mistake is genuine rather than a strategy.
Contact an Experienced Erie Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Mistake of Fact Charges in Pennsylvania
Were you arrested or charged with a crime in Pennsylvania? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. have successfully represented clients in Erie, Millcreek, Harborcreek, Fairview, Meadville and throughout Pennsylvania. Call (814) 833-7100 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 2525 W 26th St, Erie, PA 16506, as well as offices located in Meadville, North East.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.
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