Mistake of Fact Defense in Georgia
There are countless arguments a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer can use to help prove your innocence or obtain a lower charge. A mistake of fact is one of those defenses. A mistake of fact is not a defense all by itself. Instead, mistake of fact insulates a defendant from a criminal charge if it shows that the defendant did not have the required intent to commit the crime. The mistake must be a reasonable one to be considered a defense. A mistake of fact can be a complicated defense to assert, and it is always beneficial to hire a knowledgeable Georgia criminal defense attorney to assist with your case.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-3-5 on Mistake of Fact
A person shall not be found guilty of a crime if the act or omission to act constituting the crime was induced by a misapprehension of fact which, if true, would have justified the act or omission.
In sum, mistake qualifies as a defense when the crime requires a specific mental state, and the accused does not have the requisite mental state due to unawareness or ignorance. Jones v. State, 263 Ga. 835, (1994). When the ignorance is due to the accused's own fault or negligence, then the Court will not allow for a mistake of fact defense.
Example: George sells flour in his store. The bags are sold in one-pound bags. George never opens the bags. When they are delivered to his store, he puts them on the shelf and sells them as customers buy or order them. George is unaware that his flour supplier also sells cocaine and accidentally switches one bag of flour for a one-pound bag of cocaine. George sells the bag thinking it was flour when he was really selling cocaine. Since George's mistake is of the nature that he had no intention of selling drugs, George cannot be convicted of a crime.
Georgia Case Law
An example of a case where the mistake of fact was not found to be an adequate defense can be found in Allen v. State, 290 Ga. 743, (2012). There the defendant believed that the victim was not in the trajectory of the bullet fired at a third party. The Court ruled that his belief did not constitute the type of mistake of fact that would serve as a defense to malice murder or other crimes.
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime and believe it is because of a mistake of fact, contact our offices today for a free case evaluation. Your best defense begins now, and there is no time to waste. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact them today.