Mistake of Law as Defense Theory to Specific Intent Crime
October 4th, 2021

The court has a sua sponte duty to give CC 3411 if a defendant charged with a specific intent crime is appropriately relying on this defense or there is substantial evidence that a defendant’s good faith mistake of law provides a valid defense to a specific intent crime and the defense is not inconsistent with the defendant’s theory of the case. (People v. Urziceanu (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 747, 774-780; see also, People v. Koenig (2020) 58 Cal.App.5th 771, 809 [272 Cal.Rptr.3d 732] [instruction appropriate where defendant relied on advice of counsel to establish mistake of law related to omission of material fact in sale of security]; see also F 3407 Inst 3 Mistake Of Law May Negate Specific Intent.)


If the defendant is charged with a general intent crime and raises a mistake of law defense, CC 3407 applies. If both general and specific intent crimes are charged, use the bracketed first paragraph of CC 3411 may be used.


For more issues related to mistake of law see:

F 3407 Inst 1 Delete Mistake Of Law Instruction As Duplicative And Argumentative
F 3407 Inst 2 (a & b) Argumentative Language Should Be Balanced To Assure Jurors Consider All Relevant Evidence
F 3407 Inst 4 Jurors Must Unanimously Reject Any Defenses Before Convicting
F 3407 Inst 5 Pinpoint Instruction On Mistake Of Law
F 3407 Inst 6 (a-c) Vagueness Of Law As Relevant To Mistake Of Law

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