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Mistake of Fact/Mistake of Law

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Sahra Yassin

on 24 May 2011

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Transcript of Mistake of Fact/Mistake of Law

Mistake of Law: Scenario #2: Scenario #1: Mistake of Fact: April Halkett Facts R. v. Park Facts More examples of situations in which the a nistake of fact defense could be raised: Discussion Question: Now its time to test your knowledge... the accused narcotics trafficker believed the white powder he gave to his friend was talcum powder the accused fraud who believed she had enough funds in her bank account to cover the cheque she wrote the accused rapist who believed his victim had consented to have sexual intercourse Criminal Code: Section 19 states:

"Ignorance of the law by a person who commits an offence is not an excuse for committing that offence" Section 19 is a codification of the three-centuries old British common-law principle that every person is bound and presumed to know the law However there are exceptions... Mistake of Law/Mistake of Fact What needs to be proven for this defense mistake of fact to be sucessful? Fred is a sugar salesman. Fred has hundreds of bags of sugar in his store. Each bag weighs one pound, and Fred sells his sugar in one pound units. Fred never opens the bags themselves. He merely unpacks them when they are delivered, puts them on display, and sells them as they are when customers order them. One of Fred's sugar suppliers also happens to be a cocaine dealer and he accidentally puts a one pound bag of cocaine into a crate of sugar that he ships to Fred. Fred pulls the bag off of his shelf and gives it to Martha. Fred thinks he is selling Martha sugar but, unfortunately, Fred had just handed Martha the one pound bag of cocaine. Is Fred guilty of drug trafficking, or can the defense of mistake of fact/law be applied to this case? George knows that it's illegal to have sexual intercourse with a minor; he has no intent to have sex with a minor. He meets a young woman at a social function. He sees her drinking alcohol, and knows she drives, although he doesn't ask to see her license. He is fairly confident that she is over 18. It isn't until after he has sexual relations with this woman that he finds out she is a minor. Is George guilty of having sex with a minor, or can he use her misinterpretation and the defense mistake of fact/law? While strolling down the street. Carl sees what he believes to be a mugging. He grabs the "mugger" and throws him to the to the ground. The irate "mugger" scrambles to his feet and flashes his badge, as the "victim" scurries away down the alley. The "mugger" is really a plain-clothed police officer who was arresting the "victim" for drug trafficking. ? Is Carl guilty of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty, or can the defense of mistake of fact/law be applied to this case? Thanks for watching! Suppose you are working in a library and you brought a laptop with you. When you leave, you take someone else's laptop, which happens to look exactly like yours. Now lets take a crime like theft, for example 322. (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it; Criminal Code The element of theft is that you must intend to deprive the owner of his/her property permenantly.If your mistake of fact is so much that this or some element is not present, you have a defense and cannot be convicted. A criminal defense that attempts to limit criminal liability on the ground that the defendant operated based on an incorrect assumption of fact, rather than a criminal purpose. The law was not published When you relied upon the statute that was later overturned or held to be unconstitutional When you relied upon a judicial decision When you relied upon an interpretation by an appropriate offical The accused is caught speeding. When the police officer asks to see the accused's license, it is revealed that his license is suspended. The accused protests, that his license is valid, and shows the police officer a letter he had recieved from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. It turns out, that by mistake or in error, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation had sent the accused a letter indicating that his license was valid, when itn fact it wasn't. Actus Reus (voluntary or concious act or ommision) + Mens Rea (intentional, knowing, willful, reckless) = Crime Agenda: Mistake of Fact Mistake of Law Explanation Requirements Scenario and analysis Criminal Code 2 cases: sucessful and unsucessful Requirements 2 cases: sucessful and unsucessful Scenario and analysis Explanation Criminal Code Game Discussion Discussion R. Cancoil Thermal Corp Facts R. v. Cancoil Thermal Corporation was charged under the Occupation Health and Safety Act with failing to equip a machine with a guard. (1986) Government official inspected the factory and was satisfied that there were no health and safety violations and didn’t issue any orders. Two months later, a worker using the equipment cut off the tips of six fingers. R. V. Haberstock Facts Haberstock was a vice-principal of an elementary school. As Haberstock was supervising the children boarding the school bus, he noticed three boys sitting in the bus, facing him through an open window. Three boys were shouting at him, and calling him names. Haberstock shouted back that he would see the boys on Monday. Haberstock approached the two of the three boys in the school yard and said “Now boys, I am sure you know what this is for.” He slapped each of the boys on the side of the face. R. V. Haberstock Haberstock saw the third boy coming out of the school, after shouting “You’re in on this too” which he proceeded to slap the third boy, Darwin Darwin protested saying “Please Mr. Haberstock, I didn’t call you names” Haberstock was charged with assault causing bodily harm because Darwin suffered a chipped tooth. Facts Trial At his trial Haberstock relied on section 43 of the Criminal Code as his defense stating: “Every school teacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by the way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances” R. V. Haberstock Decision Judge found that Darwin had not called the accused any names. Having done nothing wrong, Darwin could not be corrected, therefore Haberstock could not use section 43, and was convicted. Trial R V. Park Decision April Hlakett was charged with negligence, and abandonment of her newborn. In 2007, April Halkett delivered a baby in a Wal-Mart bathroom in Prince Albert and left it in a toilet.
 Halkett felt ill, and was not aware of her pregnancy until giving birth in the bathroom.
 The baby came out into the toilet blue and not moving, scared and confused Halkett left the washroom without telling anyone assuming the baby was dead.
 Halkett's lawyer, Neil Gabrielson ruled that Hakjett thought the baby was dead and while her behavior was inappropriate she could not be found guilty of abandonment.
 Trial All three appeal court judges hearing the case — Ralph Ottenbreit, Gene Anne Smith and Justice Robert Richards — concluded the Crown's appeal must be dismissed. Decision Used mistake of law defense; the corporation reasonably relied upon erroneous legal opinion or advise of the official who is responsible for the administration or enforcement of the particular law Decision Strict Liability Crimes General Intent Crimes A strict liabilty crime is one that does not require intent to break the law.In other words, it does not matter if you meant to break the law or not, you can still be convicted of the crime. General intent crimes do not require an intent to break the law, just an unlawful act ("actus reus") and an intent to act in such a fashion. Discussion Question: Which of the following cases can the defenses mistake of fact/law be applied? When you are ignorant or mistaken about the law. ALMOST NEVER A DEFENSE!! Color of Right: an honestly held belief in entitlement of property; a defense to a charge of theft Like mistake of fact, general and strict liability crimes do not apply to mistake of law. Criminal Equation: This defense is used mostly for specific intent crimes, where the defendant has to knowingly commit the act (ex. murder, arson, theft, sexual assault, etc.) It must negate the mens rea aspect of the offence It must be an honest mistake Whether or not this mistake has to be reasonable is a topic of debate; however for the time being, it would be safe to assume that a mistake of fact needs to be both honest and reasonable What if mistake of fact cannot negate mens rea? it can reduce it Imperfect self defense: applies to situations when a person cannot make a sucessful self defense claim, but because he/she lacked the malice aforethought (or purpose) the crime should be mansluaghter, not murder Like mistake of fact, specific intent crimes also apply to mistake of law. If you can prove that you were not ignorant and that you relied on any of these instances, you can sucessfully use mistake of law. Do you believe her argument was valid or do you think she should be charged with negligence? Christine goes to a department store At this department store, the employees are giving out free samples of makeup products. She picks up a brand that was mistakenly put on display for free samppling- one of the employees, had put the product in the wrong section. She walks out of the store with the product and the alarms go off. Is Christine guilty of theft, or can the defense of mistake of fact/law be applied to this case? Shelly is driving to work. She sees a "Stop" sign, but continues to drive. A police car witnesses this from a far and pursues her until she stops. When the police officer asks why she didn't stop she replies: "It didn't say when." Does Shelly deserve a ticket, or can the defense of mistake of fact or mistake of law be applied? The accused was charged with sexual assault. Park testified that at her apartment that they became intimate (touching one another’s private parts and talked about sex) Park said that they only kissed and talked of birth control, considering she was a Christian and did not believe in premarital sex. The day of the assault the accused called Parks early in the morning, and agreed that he could come over. She greeted him at the door with a kiss, only wearing her bathrobe. Park’s claimed that he drew her to him and pushed her onto the bed. During the time, feeling his weight on her, she flashbacked to a previous traumatic experience. The only thing she remembered was him pulling his penis out of her and ejaculating on her stomach. However the accused testified that she actively participated, and when things got “hot”, he prematurely ejaculated on her stomach. The accused defence was that either she consented to the sexual activity or he had an honest belief that she consented into the sexual activity. The judge refused to put the mistaken belief defence to the jury, finding there was no “air of reality” to it, and concluding that the issue was simply one of “consent or no consent” Accused was convicted. Do you agree with L'Heureux-Dubé J. ? Do you think that they took the woman's side, simply because she was a woman? Or do you think the decision was fair? They won Kim was the tenant of a flat. With the landlord's consent, she installed some hi-fi equipment and soundproofing. When given notice to quit the flat, the Kim tore down the soundproofing to remove some wires that were left behind. Kim was unaware the soundproofing had, as a matter of civil law, become a fixture of the property and therefore property belonging to the landlord. Is Kim guilty of property damage, or can the defense of mistake of fact/law be applied to this case? Is the accused guilty of driving with a suspended license?
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