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When Ignorance and Mistakes Can Work in Your Favor


Everyone makes mistakes. The old adage has been littered in daily conversations and proverbial life lessons. The idea that individuals make mistakes is common knowledge. But did you know that it is also a defense that can be used in court? Although not used often, mistake of the law or ignorance of the law can be used to prove a defendant’s innocence.

Ignorance of the Law

Ignorance of the law is a circumstance where the individual being charged truly did not know the law that was being broken. In this case, the individual must be seen as innocent. The defense attorney can proclaim that the defendant did not know the law they broke and would not have intentionally done so.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The defendant must not know of the law prior to the misdemeanor and could not have been told about it before then
  • The defendant can plea ignorance of the law if they believed themselves to be following the law, but the law turned out to be incorrect.

Ignorance of Fact

Ignorance of fact can be a valid defense in court. The rule constitutes that a person can be acquitted of charges if they did not know about the facts. It means that a defendant must have otherwise thought what they were doing was legal. An example of this is if a person bought things at the supply store and the clerk did not ring and item. Technically, that item that is unpaid for will be seen as stolen. But because they did not know about it and thought they were committing a lawful act, they can use ignorance of fact for their defense.

Things to keep in mind:

  • This defense takes away the intention of the defendant, solidly arguing that the individual had no prior intent or knowledge of the situation

Although ignorance and mistakes of the law/fact are limited to when they are used, they protect citizens from unfair prosecution. At Chung & Ignacio, LLP, we make sure that our clients are fully defended. We don’t leave any stone unturned in helping you.