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"Ignorance of the law is no excuse..."

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posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 12:56 AM
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I have heard this phrase from time to time and take issue with it. Not only is ignorance of the law a potentially valid excuse, it seems it might be a highly plausible one too.

Think about it: for most regions of the world, there is no central database of laws that is easily accessible for the average citizen living there. There is no requirement to peruse, study or memorise laws (except maybe driving laws) by the time you reach 18 years old - even though you are expected to abide by the law before then. Different regions have different laws, so while knowing every single law in one region and continually revising over them is unrealistic in itself, every time you travel into a different region you are expected to know another set of laws.

In addition, you are more likely to learn about a law by doing something wrong than you are by coming across the law by chance in your daily interactions. Sure, you might be let off with a warning by a cop if you made a genuine mistake relating to some obscure law, but the power for you to be punished by the state for your transgression is there.

Of course, some will argue that most laws relate to common sense and should be gradually instilled into a developing child by parents. The trouble with this line of argument is that common sense is more subjective in this context than most people realise, and not everyone is raised by decent, law-abiding parents.

As somebody who firmly believes that the onus of assimilation and integration is on the migrant entering a new region, I realise that my above arguments can be challenged. So, how can I attempt to reconcile such a position with all the above? I don't know. I am willing to admit that there is conflict in my views, but I am hoping some of the great minds on this website can help me out.

What do you think? Is there some merit to what I have presented, or do you wholeheartedly disagree?




posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 01:22 AM
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a reply to: Dark Ghost

That is a tenet in law...however..

If it is common sense, most judges will balk at the "didn't know" defense. And I mean REALLY common sense, like "you should not stab someone without being attacked or physically threatened." If it is something truly and likely unknowable by the average citizen, or even a newcomer, at least in the US, a judge will throw it out or give a small fine.

I am not sure what you are grasping for. There has been, recently a story where one government had to tell immigrants that 'rape is wrong'. It would depend on WHAT country that person came form. Read 'Clan if the Cave bear'. maybe there are 3 countries left where someone may know that is not 100% wrong. They should still be punished, though. Unless they came from one of those 3 or an 'untouched' island (there are some) and then a trip to a mental health facility for 30 days with training in 1st world laws would be better.

There are some rare circumstances there and your OP is sort of vague.


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posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 01:29 AM
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a reply to: Dark Ghost

Ignorance of the law is no excuse is a valid concept. Imagine the chaos of that becoming a standard defense to a law violation.

I didnt know what the speed limit was...
I didnt know it would kill him...
I didnt know you couldn't sell your own kids...

Its why court cases are based on the merits of the case itself - including mitigating factors / circumstances. Being able to raise the issue of not knowing the law in court as a consideration is more appropriate than than it being an actual defense position.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 01:31 AM
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originally posted by: Xcathdra
a reply to: Dark Ghost

Ignorance of the law is no excuse is a valid concept. Imagine the chaos of that becoming a standard defense to a law violation.

I didnt know what the speed limit was...
I didnt know it would kill him...
I didnt know you couldn't sell your own kids...

Its why court cases are based on the merits of the case itself - including mitigating factors / circumstances. Being able to raise the issue of not knowing the law in court as a consideration is more appropriate than than it being an actual defense position.


It will never become a standard. there are some cases where a judge would feel the person REALLY did not know and had no common way to know.

Xcathdra: you are right that is brought up as mitigating circumstances.
edit on 26-12-2015 by reldra because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 01:35 AM
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Laws are so convoluted and ever changing. Never heard of anyone winning a court case because there were ignorant of the law, however I saw it used in a defense recenly and it was actually received as a valid excuse and resulted in a slap on the wrist instead of a more serious sentence. There is no possible way to know every law on the books, so im with the OP here.
edit on 26-12-2015 by mapsurfer_ because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 01:35 AM
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a reply to: reldra

Funny enough in my state of Mo the excuse "I didn't know" is valid for equipment malfunctions on a motor vehicle - back end. Burned out tail lights / license plate light requires the driver to know they are out in order for their to be a law violation.

Thats the only one I know of and resulted as a court ruling (since the statute doesnt make a distinction on knowledge of the malfunction). I think allowing ignorance of the law as a valid defense (instead of merely an argument) is dangerous.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 01:41 AM
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originally posted by: Xcathdra
a reply to: reldra

Funny enough in my state of Mo the excuse "I didn't know" is valid for equipment malfunctions on a motor vehicle - back end. Burned out tail lights / license plate light requires the driver to know they are out in order for their to be a law violation.

Thats the only one I know of and resulted as a court ruling (since the statute doesnt make a distinction on knowledge of the malfunction). I think allowing ignorance of the law as a valid defense (instead of merely an argument) is dangerous.


You are right. It is not an automatic defense. It is part of mitigating circumstances in determining the outcome. The outcome could still be a dismissal, if the crime was not very notable. It could be an ACD. I would think that for misdemeanors and violations, some low lvl non violent felonies.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 02:49 AM
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a reply to: Dark Ghost




There is no requirement to peruse, study or memorise laws (except maybe driving laws) by the time you reach 18 years old - even though you are expected to abide by the law before then.


In the US a parent or guardian is legally responsible for the actions of a minor (person under 18), unless such an act is committed by the individual the state can knowingly prove the minor acted with knowledge and intent of an adult (person over 18)




Different regions have different laws

Federal law is uniform across the US. States have their own individual laws. You have the freedom to choose what state you live in.




every time you travel into a different region you are expected to know another set of laws.

If you voluntarily travel to another state, the respectful thing to do would be to educate yourself on the laws. It's not like they are hidden.





In addition, you are more likely to learn about a law by doing something wrong than you are by coming across the law by chance in your daily interactions.


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not personal opinion.




Of course, some will argue that most laws relate to common sense and should be gradually instilled into a developing child by parents.

Yeah, the federal government. That's why they hold parents legally responsible for a child's actions.




not everyone is raised by decent, law-abiding parents.

This statement is 100% true. I have nothing to refute that point.




So, how can I attempt to reconcile such a position with all the above?

If you personally are wishing to assimilate, well you already know how. You've shown that right here in your post.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 02:59 AM
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it is an interesting subject, thanks for your OP. I would like to add my view that a world filled with laws is a drab world. Dont get me wrong, I think certain laws and regulations are needed. But there are plenty of others that are useless, I think a portion of humanity can outgrow those laws. As we finally do, eventually those laws will become null and void.
A good focus it to evolve so much that many laws just do not matter anymore. A simple example might be, drink and driving. Once you dont do it, your worries are over. The police could pull you over, but that law just is not applicable to you any more.a reply to: Dark Ghost



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 05:02 AM
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originally posted by: Dark Ghost
I have heard this phrase from time to time and take issue with it. Not only is ignorance of the law a potentially valid excuse, it seems it might be a highly plausible one too.
...
What do you think? Is there some merit to what I have presented, or do you wholeheartedly disagree?


I think the courts have recognised the points that you make; they are not completely blind to the difficulty of keeping track of all the legislation.

As a matter of sheer practicality, however, they have to start from some basic assumptions - one of which is that everyone knows the law. Ignorance as a defence could open up a lot of floodgates.

I'd invite you to read the following:

Are you sure you know what the law is?

The judge specifically mentions the issue of managing the constant flood of new legislation.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 05:22 AM
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"Ignorance of the law" is barred as an excuse for sound practical reasons.
If it was officially allowed, it could be abused too easily. Is is being abused now with "I didn't know rape was illegal in your society".
The only practical solution to the problem is to disallow the relevance of ignoranceof the law to the question of guilt, while allowing a little leeway to judges when it comes to applying sentences.

People need to make themselves acquainted with at least the basic laws relating to their own actvities, whether they are drivers, landlords, employers, journalists, whatever.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 07:09 AM
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I've had a cop write me a ticket for riding a bicycle at night with no headlights, I did have proper reflectors . I didn't even know such a thing existed. He told me they sell them at Wal Mart. I told him I don't do business with Wal Mart.
Long story short...he wrote me a ticket. I appeared in court and plead not guilty. The silly charges were dropped.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 07:13 AM
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a reply to: Dark Ghost

Wow Sir! I couldn't have put it any better like you just did!
+1 Awareness!
I'll keep track of you're posts from now on.....



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 08:35 AM
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a reply to: Dark Ghost

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse" is a concept promoted by those that enforce the law. They know that it is impossible for anyone to know every law, but they don't want that to interfere with their ability to punish anyone they want to punish. It sounds a lot better than "You should ask for permission before you do anything."

Of course, those same authority figures are far more lenient when dealing with their own. You should know all the legal nuances of recording conversations you witness, but when the CIA illegally taps the phones of Congressmen, no foul. If you lie on the witness stand, that's perjury. When a cop does it, no charges. If you manipulate stock prices for profit, it's a crime. When a financial institution does it, it's Tuesday. You could fill a law library with a list of double standards.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 11:33 AM
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Well the entire law industry essentially took what should be the most basic and only law needed, don't be a dick or else, turned it into millions of pages of convoluted language that needs an interpreter for the people that the laws are for.



posted on Dec, 26 2015 @ 12:04 PM
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a reply to: VictorVonDoom

No its not. Its a legislative and Judicial position and since police dont work for the legislative nor judicial branches we have nothing to do with it. Secondly while police have discretion we dont charge anyone. The prosecuting attorney does and can bring charges even if law enforcement doesnt apply for any.

I leave the "ironic" and "ignorance" of how things work to the reader.




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