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Is Ignorance of the Law Ever a Valid Defense?

When you get accused of committing a crime, you could have many different defensive strategies to use. It is extremely rare that “I didn’t know I couldn’t do that.” is one of them. The ignorance of the law is just not going to be a valid defense in most situations. You should talk to a Des Moines criminal defense lawyer from our firm and find another way to defend yourself.

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Why Isn’t Ignorance of the Law a Valid Defense?

There are so many laws on the books, so it’s unrealistic for everyone to know every law. There are federal laws and state laws, along with local laws set by your town or city. So isn’t it possible that you just did not know that something was illegal when you allegedly committed a crime?

There is some expectation that all people know the law to some extent. You know that you shouldn’t steal something. You know that assaulting someone else is wrong. Trying to convince a jury or court otherwise is probably not going to work.

What Other Defenses Can Be Employed Instead of Ignorance of the Law?

There are defenses that are related to the ignorance of the law that can be more effective and more believable. One can be referred to as “mistake of fact.” Instead of claiming that you were ignorant about the law, you are saying that you do know what is legal and illegal. The problem is that you actually thought that what you were doing at the time was legal.

Let’s say that you are arrested for stealing someone’s car. You know that stealing a car is wrong, but you did not think that you were stealing a car. You thought that you had an agreement allowing you to use the car. This would be a mistake of fact, and a miscommunication like this is far more believable of a defense than “I did not know I couldn’t steal cars.”

Another potential defense is “mistake of law,” but this is rather limited in its use. It could potentially be used when a current law has not been published or a statute or law has recently been overturned. Laws are subject to review, and sometimes they get overturned or changed. If you are accused of doing something that was legal but now is illegal, this may be a defense that you can employ.

How Can My Defense Attorney Help Me?

Your defense attorney can help you with your case in some key ways. Your lawyer will:

  • Help you find an appropriate defensive strategy
  • Handle all communications for you
  • Prepare you for testimony
  • Fight to preserve your constitutional rights
  • Get evidence against you thrown out when possible
  • Talk to the prosecutor about plea deals

Schedule Your Consultation Today

If you are facing serious criminal charges, you should have an experienced defense attorney on your side. Contact Herting Law, PLLC and schedule your own consultation today. We can get right to work on crafting the best possible defensive strategy.

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