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Mistake as to the Law Defining the Offense

This lesson explains how the MPC deals with the maxim "ignorance of the law is no excuse." It addresses the general rule that a defendant need not know his or her conduct is criminal and looks at the exceptions to that general rule found in MPC § 2.04(3)(b).

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the relevance of the maxim, "ignorance of the law is no excuse," under the Model Penal Code.
  2. State the limited defense found in Model Penal Code § 2.04(3).
  3. Explain the issue of mistakes or ignorance as to the law defining the offense itself.
  4. Analyze the limited instances which allow a mistake defense as to the law defining the offense.
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