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The Lack Of Criminal Intent Defense


Long before you were old enough to be tried as an adult in the criminal justice system, an authority figure such as a parent or teacher probably told you that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it.  There are no crimes where you can be acquitted simply by proving that you did not know that what you were doing was illegal.  For example, even though the number of cities and counties where Florida has decriminalized cannabis is rapidly increasing, you can still be charged with drug possession if you bring your weed to a county that has not yet decriminalized cannabis.  In some cases, though, you can prove your innocence by proving that you acted without criminal intent.  The lack of criminal intent defense is only applicable in some cases, though, and it only works if you support it with evidence.  To find out whether the lack of criminal intent is applicable to your case, contact a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer.

Cases Where the Lack of Criminal Intent Can Get You Acquitted

When you meet with your criminal defense lawyer after being arrested on suspicion of a crime, your lawyer will explain to you the details of the criminal charges you are facing.  For some offenses, you are not guilty of the offense unless your actions meet multiple criteria.  If one of those criteria is that you engaged in the action knowingly and intentionally, then you may be able to use the lack of criminal intent defense.  For example, if you are being accused of assault and battery for hitting someone, you can use the lack of criminal intent defense if you hit the person by accident or if you acted in self-defense.  Likewise, the lack of criminal intent defense applies in a theft case if you did not know that you were removing the item from its legal owner’s property, and you are not guilty of embezzlement if you reasonably believed that your employer gave you permission to make the transaction.

Negligence and Intoxication Do Not Count as Lack of Criminal Intent

There are some contexts where you are still criminally liable if you injure or endanger someone unintentionally.  For example, you can still be convicted of DUI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was above the legal limit, even if you waited for a while after drinking in the hopes that you would be sober enough to drive.  Manslaughter, by definition, does not mean intentionally killing the victim; it means accidentally killing the victim, but it is still a crime.  Likewise, if you were too drunk to realize that what you were doing was illegal, this does not absolve you of responsibility.  If the person that the surveillance camera shows stealing, destroying property, and fighting, was you, you can face criminal penalties for your actions, even if you were so drunk that you don’t remember doing those things.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.



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