The code of laws in the United States can be complex and difficult to understand. We have federal laws, state laws, and municipal laws. In some cases, these laws may appear to contradict each other. Therefore, it is easy to become confused about whether an act is a crime. In other cases, something that seems innocent because it does not endanger anyone or involve another person could be illegal simply because of an old law still on the books.
Therefore, it is completely possible for a person to do something that he or she did not know was a crime. However, is ignorance of a crime a valid defense to a criminal charge? Our federal criminal defense attorneys are here to clear up some common misconceptions.
Can I Be Arrested Even If I Did Not Know That What I Did Was a Crime?
First, let’s examine whether or not you can be arrested even if you did not know you were committing a crime. Yes, you can absolutely be arrested for doing something you did not know what a crime. If you view this from the perspective of law enforcement officers, it makes perfect sense. Many people who knowingly commit crimes claim ignorance when they are caught and arrested. Therefore, the police officer cannot be sure when someone is telling the truth.
Furthermore, it is not a police officer’s duty or responsibility to determine if you are guilty of a crime. A police officer has a duty to arrest someone who commits a crime so that the judicial system can sort out the truth and make a judgment as to innocence or guilt.
Therefore, if you are arrested, guilty or not guilty, you need to exercise your constitutional rights immediately.
- Politely and respectfully state that you refuse to answer questions without an attorney present. You have the right to remain silent. Attempting to explain the situation or why you are not guilty can often make matters worse. Exercise your right to remain silent to protect yourself.
- Ask for an attorney immediately. You have the constitutional right to consult with an attorney. Police officers often suggest that you will “look” guilty if you ask for an attorney. No, you will appear smart and well-versed in your constitutional rights. If you are innocent, you need an attorney immediately to protect your legal rights.
Is Ignorance of the Law a Legal Defense?
Judges often tell defendants that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. The law is the law whether you agreed with the law, you understood the law, or you knew about the law at the time you broke the law. Therefore, it is possible for you to be convicted of a crime even though you were not aware that you were breaking the law when you committed the crime.
However, as with any other criminal charge, it is usually in your best interest to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Attorneys understand the law, and they are well-versed in the various legal defenses used to defend individuals who are accused of breaking those laws.
The fact that you were not aware of the law could be used in your defense and could have an impact on your defense, in certain cases.
Contact the Sacco Tyner team today to discuss how we can help. Our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys can review the facts and circumstances of your case to determine if your ignorance of the law is a valid defense to the criminal charges, in addition to developing other defense strategies.
Posted in: Federal Criminal Defense