XIV. Good Faith Belief

In order to commit some crimes, there is a required mental state. For example, in a PC 261.5 case, you could have the mistaken belief that a person is actually 18 years old, but in reality they were only 17. This could mistaken belief can happen in many different ways, such as verbally, a person telling you they are 18, when in reality they are 17.

Another common way is a person saying they are a college student, leading you to believe they were over 18. The idea behind this defense is that you had a good faith belief even if that belief wound up being wrong. If, in the above example, the person clearly tells you they are a Freshman in High School, then you cannot reasonable state you had a belief that their age was in fact 18.

However, some crimes it does not matter what your reasonable belief is at the time. For example, in a PC 288(a) charge, you cannot use the defense that you believed the minor was not 14 years old at the time. I have seen and handled many PC 288(a) cases, where my client tells me that even if he did commit the sexual crimes against the minor, he should not be found guilty because he was lied to or mislead as to her age.

Unfortunately here, this defense does not apply. This is what is called a Strict Liability crime, meaning that the fact that the incident happened, is enough for it to be a crime. Your intent or mental state are irrelevant in that circumstance.

For more information on the defense of good faith belief, call Ontario Criminal Defense attorney Adam Jackson today for a free consultation and free case evaluation. Call today at 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario, CA.