6 November, 2021

Defendants often ask Leyba Defense PLLC about what to do after making an honest mistake, but what is a Mistake of Fact in criminal law? You do not need to go through a criminal trial alone; Leyba Defense PLLC’s reliable legal team is more than capable of mustering the support you need. Mistake of Fact can be a defense, especially if legal practitioners like us use the approach to foster a better plea bargain or acquittal.

mistake of fact vs mistake of law

What Does It Mean To Claim A Mistake of Fact in Criminal Law?

A Mistake of Fact defense can take years of legal practice to master, and Leyba Defense has helped countless defendants face their charges after an honest blunder. We work hard to prove your innocence, especially if you can prove you believe something inconsistent with objective truth. For example, a person born into a color-blind family might reach adulthood thinking that orange and brown are identical colors.

A great Mistake of Fact defense example is finding employment at a jeweler and then mistakenly selling a hessonite garnet item instead of topaz because you can’t tell them apart. The important aspect of a Mistake of Fact in criminal law refers to a central sentencing element that needs to prove a defendant has made an error in the wake of ignorance, not willful neglect of legal duty.

More About The Mistake of Fact Defense

A Mistake of Fact can be a defense if it proves an illegal action is born out of forgetfulness or unconscious ignorance. You can’t use Mistake of Fact cases for a wrongful act that the defendant was aware they were committing. Leyba Defense attorneys would use it to negate criminal intent, reducing your criminal or civil liability for an illegal action.

Mutual Mistakes in Contract Law

The responsibility for a mistake isn’t always clear-cut, especially in contract law. You can see a stellar Mistake of Fact defense example in the forgeries of Lee Israel in the 1990s. If you had bought one of the infamous writer’s hundreds of letters, captions, or signatures as an investment, you would have been disappointed to find out it was a forgery as you tried to sell this item.

Lee imprinted forgeries on all types of media to sell for a higher price, and you might even face criminal charges from someone to whom you unknowingly sold a forged item. If the bookstore you bought it from also had no idea that it was a forgery, the scenario might constitute a mutual Mistake of Fact.

Unilateral Mistakes

In the example above, you couldn’t return the forgery to the bookstore if they disclosed Israel’s signature and charged you a reduced price, even if you were under the impression that it was an original version. It’s a unilateral Mistake of Fact (criminal law dictates it was your responsibility to know).

Mistake of Fact vs. Mistake of Law

If you walk into the wrong building after receiving an invitation to a house party, setting off the alarm, you may have a Mistake of Fact defense against trespassing. However, if you use and sell marijuana in a state that bans it because you are unaware of the regulations, you commit a Mistake of Law and might face jail time.

Hire Professional Representation

What is a Mistake of Fact in criminal law? Call Leyba Defense PLLC for more information about how to approach these legal scenarios and curate a suitable defense.

Call Leyba Defense PLLC at 206-953-2145 today for a free quote from our client-focused attorneys.