Defending yourself in court can be difficult when you face criminal charges. It is already intimidating to be in a position where you have to defend your actions to a group of people or else face strict consequences, like jail time.
But what happens when you didn't even realize that you committed a crime? In this case, you might have a "mistake of fact" defense on your hands. This guide will help you better understand this kind of defense and how it is used in court.
The Mistake of Fact Defense
A mistake of fact occurs when somebody accused of committing a crime did not understand every element of the crime. It's not that they did not know something was a crime, but rather they didn't realize they were committing a crime. These types of cases can be difficult to defend, and it is most often associated with theft cases.
An Example of the Mistake of Fact Defense
An example of a mistake of fact occurs if a woman is accused of stealing a bike she believed to be hers. She took a bike that looked exactly like hers and was in a similar location to where she left hers. In this example, the woman did not mean to take property from somebody else. She did not intend to deprive another person of his or her property.
The Considerations of the Jury
The jury will examine your defense closely. A mistake of fact defense only works if you have a story that the jury believes. The jury must believe that you honestly made a mistake and that any reasonable person could have made a similar error in judgment.
For example, the jury might listen to the story of a woman stealing a bike, except that her bike was an adult's bike and the bike she claimed to mistake for her own was obviously a child's bike. In this case, the jury will likely not buy the mistake of fact defense because it is not reasonable to mistake an adult's bike for a small child's bike.
A criminal defense attorney can help you through these difficult charges. If you are accused of committing a crime in which the mistake of fact defense can be used, you may have a strong case. Contact an attorney today to discuss your case and ensure that you are represented in court.
For more information about criminal defense, contact a local criminal defense office such as Stowers and Sarcone.