“Mistake Of Fact” As A Criminal Defense


When accused of criminal activity, a criminal defense lawyer Knoxville, TN, can use various defenses to clear your name, one of which is known as “Mistake Of Fact.” If you were accused of a crime that you never intended to commit in the first place, you could use this defense.

If you have accidentally engaged in a crime because you were unaware of a fact, your attorney can help you prove your innocence. If you are wrongfully accused, hire an attorney today to protect your rights.

What is the “Mistake Of Fact” defense?

Some crimes are unintentional; they happen without the person’s intent to commit a crime. In some cases, the defendant may say that they never meant to commit a crime and that the criminal act happened due to a mistake of facts. However, the mistake must be reasonable for this defense to work.

A “Mistake Of Fact” defense can be better explained with the help of an example.

Suppose you have a golden retriever dog, and you take it out for a walk every morning. One morning you lose sight of your dog for a few minutes. But, luckily, you find your dog and take it back home. However, when you looked at it closely, you realized that it was not your dog. You accidentally brought home another dog that looks exactly the same as yours. In this case, you did not intentionally commit theft of the dog, but the owner of the dog may accuse you. Here, you can use the defense that the criminal act took place purely due to misunderstandings or mistakes of fact.

Can you use the “Mistake Of Fact” defense in any case?

If the criminal act was based on misunderstanding, you have every right to use the defense. However, the mistake must seem reasonable and honest to the judge or jury. You cannot claim your situation to be a mistake after agreeing that you actually knew about the situation. Similarly, if you were repeatedly told that the property is not yours and you still took it anyway, your mistake would no longer be considered reasonable.

What about strict liability cases?

While a mistake of facts is a legally valid defense in many cases, it is unlikely to help you in strict liability cases. The defense can only be used in cases where the accused did not intend to commit the crime. However, strict liability crimes do not require intent, and thus, mistake of fact is not available as a defense.

Humans are flawed beings, and it is possible to commit a criminal act without even knowing it. It can be stressful to realize that you have committed a crime; however, a skilled attorney can help you get out of such a situation.