TX CPJC 29-2 Mistake of Law

TX CPJC 29-2 Mistake of Law

State: Texas

Criminal Pattern Jury Charges (Criminal Defenses) (2015)
Chapter 29. Mistake of Law
CPJC 29-2 Mistake of Law

[Insert instructions for underlying offense.]

If you all agree the state has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, each of the [number] elements listed above, you must next consider whether the defense of mistake of law applies.

Mistake of Law

You have heard evidence that, when the defendant [insert specific conduct constituting offense], he believed that his conduct did not constitute a crime.

Relevant Statutes

A person’s conduct that would otherwise constitute the crime of [offense] is not a criminal offense if the person reasonably believed as a result of mistake of law that the conduct charged did not constitute a crime and that he acted in reasonable reliance on either—

1. an official statement of the law contained in a written order or grant of permission by an administrative agency charged by law with responsibility for interpreting the law in question; or

2. a written interpretation of the law contained in an opinion of a court of record or made by a public official charged by law with responsibility for interpreting the law in question.

Mistake of law is an affirmative defense. Therefore the defendant must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, three elements. The elements are that—

[Select one of the following.]

1. at the time of the conduct, the defendant believed that the conduct did not constitute a crime; and

[or]

1. the defendant, before or during his conduct, considered the law applicable to his conduct and mistakenly concluded the law did not make the conduct a crime; and

[or]

1. the defendant [mistakenly] believed the law did not make the conduct a crime; and

[Continue with the following.]

2. the defendant’s belief was reasonable; and

3. the defendant reached this [mistaken] belief in reasonable reliance on either—

a. an official statement of the law contained in a written order or grant of permission by an administrative agency charged by law with responsibility for interpreting the law in question; or

b. a written interpretation of the law contained in an opinion of a court of record; or

c. a written interpretation of the law made by a public official charged by law with responsibility for interpreting the law in question.

The affirmative defense of mistake of law is not established by proof that the defendant was simply ignorant of the provisions of any law after the law took effect. The evidence must show the defendant addressed the law and reached a mistaken conclusion about what the law meant.

Burden of Proof

The burden is on the defendant to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he comes within the affirmative defense of mistake of law.

Definitions

Law

“Law” means the constitution or a statute of this state or of the United States, a written opinion of a court of record, a municipal ordinance, an order of a county commissioners court, or a rule authorized by and lawfully adopted under a statute.

Reasonable Belief

“Reasonable belief” means a belief that an ordinary and prudent person would have held in the same circumstances as the defendant.

Reasonable Reliance

The defendant’s reliance on a source was reasonable if an ordinary and prudent person in the same circumstances as the defendant would have relied on that source and reached any mistaken conclusion or belief that the defendant reached.

Preponderance of the Evidence

The term “preponderance of the evidence” means the greater weight and degree of the credible evidence.

Application of Law to Facts

If you have found that the state has proved the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, you must next decide whether the defendant has proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he comes within the affirmative defense of mistake of law.

To decide the issue of mistake of law, you must determine whether the defendant has proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, three elements. The elements are that—

[Select one of the following.]

1. the defendant believed his conduct did not constitute a crime; and

[or]

1. the defendant, before or during his conduct, considered the law applicable to his conduct and mistakenly concluded the law did not make the conduct a crime; and

[or]

1. the defendant [mistakenly] believed the law did not make the conduct a crime; and

[Continue with the following.]

2. the defendant’s belief was reasonable; and

3. the defendant reached this [mistaken] belief in reasonable reliance on either—

a. an official statement of the law contained in a written order or grant of permission by an administrative agency charged by law with responsibility for interpreting the law in question; or

b. a written interpretation of the law contained in an opinion of a court of record; or

c. a written interpretation of the law made by a public official charged by law with responsibility for interpreting the law in question.

If you find that the defendant has proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, all three elements listed above, you must find the defendant “not guilty.”

If you all agree the state has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, each of the elements of the offense of [insert specific offense], and you all agree the defendant has not proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, all three elements listed above, you must find the defendant “guilty.”

[Insert any other instructions raised by the evidence. Then continue with the verdict form found in CPJC 2.1, the general charge, in Texas Criminal Pattern Jury Charges—General, Evidentiary & Ancillary Instructions.]

By | 2017-12-10T12:45:09+00:00 December 10th, 2017|Comments Off on TX CPJC 29-2 Mistake of Law