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Ignorance of Law as an Excuse. Options
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2017 11:20:48 AM

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‘Ignorance of Law is no excuse’ is an old adage. Quite a number of accused and simplistic persons have sought refuge taking this plea but courts refused to accept. After a law is enacted, this doctrine assumes that the law in question has been properly promulgated—published and distributed. But it is never assured whether the same has been understood also by the public. Most of the times it takes years for legal luminaries and the apex court to explain the correct meaning of the law and to reach a logical culmination of a simple case.

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2017 5:28:15 PM

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How else would lawyers and solicitors make a living, if they didn't make laws so complicated that no-one could understand them?


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 8:26:51 AM

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DragO sir, You are right. But aren't lawyers and solicitors are progeny of bad legislation.

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
Hope123
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 10:14:02 AM

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I "dunno". I've never had trouble figuring out what the law might not want me to do, even though I have no accurate knowledge of individual laws.

What kinds of laws are we talking about here?

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Anon
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 11:03:10 AM

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Hi Hope123, broadly it means you can’t claim to be exempt from liability under a law just because you didn’t know there was such a law.

For example, just because you didn’t know that the speed limit was 45 MPH at a particular stretch in the road will not excuse you from being ticketed for driving 60. Similarly, you can’t claim to be exempt from being charged with someone’s murder by arguing that you had no idea that murder was a crime.

I hope I am able to explain.

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
Hope123
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 11:36:50 AM

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Ashwin Joshi wrote:
Hi Hope123, broadly it means you can’t claim to be exempt from liability under a law just because you didn’t know there was such a law.

For example, just because you didn’t know that the speed limit was 45 MPH at a particular stretch in the road will not excuse you from being ticketed for driving 60. Similarly, you can’t claim to be exempt from being charged with someone’s murder by arguing that you had no idea that murder was a crime.

I hope I am able to explain.


I understood the concept, AJ, but the example about the speed limit gives an example I had not thought of, although in Canada we have lots of signs. I suppose people will try anything...



The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Anon
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 12:02:09 PM

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Hi Hope123; Some other examples;
I don't exactly know who, but most probably, John Kroetch explained it as under;



Under our legal system, Canadians are expected to know what the law says. But this doesn't mean we all have to be legal experts. It's not realistic for everyone to memorize all the laws! Not even lawyers know all this information.

The rule "ignorance of the law is no excuse" really means that people can't defend their actions by claiming they didn't know the law.

It would be too easy for people to break a contract, ignore a neighbour's right to privacy or sell drugs if they could get away with it by arguing they didn't know it was against the law.

However, even when people have good intentions, they sometimes break the law because they don't realize they are doing something illegal. This can happen because our legal system is complicated. When people have good intentions, judges can sometimes be understanding. Judges are less understanding when the actions involve certain kinds of crimes.


Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
Irma Crespo
Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 8:21:18 AM

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Ignorance of law means want of knowledge of those laws which a person has a duty to know and which every man is presumed to know. Ignorance can be voluntary or involuntary. It is voluntary when a person might be taking reasonable pains could have acquired the necessary knowledge. For example, every man can acquire knowledge of the laws which have been promulgated. Therefore neglect to become acquainted with them is voluntary ignorance. On the other hand, it is involuntary when the ignorance is not of choice and it cannot be overcome by the use of any means of knowledge known to him and within his power. For example ignorance of a law which has not yet been promulgated.

Ignorantia juris non excusat or Ignorantia legis neminem excusat is a Latin maxim which means "ignorance of the law does not excuse" or "ignorance of the law excuses no one." The rationale of this maxim is that if ignorance of the law was an excuse then any person charged with a criminal offense or subject of a civil suit can claim that he or she was unaware of the law in question and avoid liability. The law imputes knowledge of all laws to all persons within its jurisdiction. The doctrine assumes that the law in question has been properly published and distributed, for example, by being printed in a government gazette, made available over the internet, or printed in volumes available for sale to the public at affordable prices.

Even though general rule that ignorance of the law or a mistake of law is no defense is deeply rooted in the American legal system, case law has recognized certain exceptions to the doctrine. For example in Cheek v. the United States, 498 U.S. 192, 200-201 (U.S. 1991) the court observed that the proliferation of statutes and regulations has sometimes made it difficult for the average citizen to know and comprehend the extent of the duties and obligations imposed by the tax laws. Therefore the Congress has softened the impact of the common-law presumption by making a specific intent to violate the law an element of certain federal criminal tax offenses. Thus, the Court almost 60 years ago interpreted the statutory term "willfully" as used in the federal criminal tax statutes as carving out an exception to the traditional rule that ignorance of the law cannot be excused. This special treatment of criminal tax offenses is largely due to the complexity of the tax laws.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, February 5, 2018 10:32:08 AM

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Hi Hope!

Consider someone going to visit the USA. It is not one of the things taught by travel agents in the UK that it is illegal to cross the road in a normal manner.

In the USA, you have to specifically walk away from the safe point where you can see both (of two) directions and find a crossroads, where there are four possible streams of traffic - and cross there.

But the fact that visitors do not know this law doesn't stop the police from arresting you.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

There are millions of laws, legal statutes and regulations.
Did you know there is a law about having a tree which casts a shadow onto your neighbour's garden?
Did you know that it is (or was until recently) illegal for a policeman to walk on the footpath in the City of London?
Did you know that it is still illegal to wear a black cape in some parts of London as it looks like a policeman's uniform of the nineteenth century?



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Islami
Posted: Thursday, February 8, 2018 10:58:15 AM
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DragOnsir....hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Just because the writer of an article is British doesn't mean that they use English correctly-DragOnspeaker.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, February 9, 2018 4:35:24 PM

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Islami wrote:
DragOnsir....hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.


Well, yes, they may be a little "extreme" but they are examples of laws which are still active (or were, within this century).

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2018 10:46:43 AM
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Well I'm off the hook then! According to the explanation above its only every "man" who is supposed to know the laws, and also only "men" who need to acquire knowledge of the law!

Phew, what a relief - all of us woman are exempted!! So fifty percent of the population can be as ignorant of the law as they like. Dancing Dancing
Hope123
Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2018 5:59:15 PM

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Romany wrote:
Well I'm off the hook then! According to the explanation above its only every "man" who is supposed to know the laws, and also only "men" who need to acquire knowledge of the law!

Phew, what a relief - all of us woman are exempted!! So fifty percent of the population can be as ignorant of the law as they like. Dancing Dancing


LOL. Would love to see a Supreme Court ruling on this. I wonder how many laws ARE written as "man".

Did you see Canada just got the (almost wrote "her") national anthem changed to change "sons" to "all" - took some doing though.

And presume you heard about Trudeau's usage of "peoplekind" when if he'd said "humankind" there wouldn't be a CDN government scandal. Whistle

Drago, I get your point. And you never want to disobey any policeman.

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Anon
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 12:36:47 AM

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Hope123 wrote:
And you never want to disobey any policeman.

Especially when he's wearing a black cape and walking on the footpath!




Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Irma Crespo
Posted: Friday, March 30, 2018 2:52:03 AM

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Joined: 12/24/2014
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Location: Panamá, Panama, Panama
Ignorantia juris non excusat[1] or ignorantia legis neminem excusat[2] (Latin for "ignorance of the law excuses not"[1] and "ignorance of law excuses no one"[2] respectively) is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its content.
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