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Is Ignorance of the Law Ever a Good Defense?

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Can you be charged with a crime if you did not know that you were committing a crime at the time? Yes, and this is because your ignorance of the law is not a valid defense in most situations. If this was an acceptable defense, couldn’t everyone just claim that they did not know that they were engaged in illegal activities? Instead of trying to claim ignorance, you need to come up with a defense that will actually be accepted and potentially convincing. An Astoria criminal defense lawyer from our firm can help you with that.

Why Can’t I Claim Ignorance of the Law?

You cannot claim ignorance of the law because it would just allow too many defendants to claim ignorance when faced with criminal charges. People do not have to know every area of federal, state, and local law inside and out. However, there is the expectation that a responsible person would at least have some knowledge of the laws they are bound by. You cannot just claim that you didn’t know about laws against stealing cars or distributing drugs.

Are There Defenses Similar to Ignorance of the Law?

There are defensive strategies that are similar to ignorance of the law, but they are more likely to be effective in some extremely specific situations.

Mistakes of fact: A defendant has misunderstood some sort of fact, and this makes it possible to argue that they had no intention of committing a crime. This can be of use in larceny and theft cases. If a defendant took someone else’s property after making a genuine and reasonable mistake that they were allowed to take possession of it. Maybe there was a misunderstanding and the defendant thought that they were allowed to borrow something, but no such agreement existed.

Mistakes of law: Laws do change and get overturned, so this is one defense that can work in specific circumstances. Essentially, the argument is that the defendant was ignorant of the law as it existed “at the time.” So if there was a recent change to a law, a recently overturned statute, or a law that was deemed unconstitutional and needed to change as a result, this is a defense that can be deployed.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?

When you hire an attorney from our law firm, you can be sure that this is someone who will stand with you at every step of the way. We will do everything that we can to aid in your defense including:

  • Reminding you of important court dates and deadlines
  • Answering any questions that you have about the legal process
  • Protecting your civil rights
  • Handling all communications on your behalf so there is no risk of you incriminating yourself
  • Preparing you for testimony
  • Getting evidence against you thrown out when possible
  • Talking to the prosecution about plea bargains if needed

Talk to Our Legal Team

We know that every case is different, so schedule your free consultation and give the experienced attorneys at Vasiliou Law to take a closer look at your situation. We can tell you more about your legal options and how a defense attorney can be of assistance.

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