Thank you Armstrong Legal, the lawyers that have helped over the past 3 years but more importantly, thank you to Thomas Allen for the major part you and Mr Buckland played. Cannot thank you enough. Cheers.
Hi all. I would like to thank Ms Lisa Riley for all her help with my legal issues this past month. It was the most harrowing experience of my life and thanks to her expertise, professionalism and knowledge of the law, I came out almost unscathed. I have no hesitation in recommending Lisa Riley and Armstrong Legal if you need help. The service is amazing and the cost was very minimal for the great outcome. Thank you Lisa for helping me in the most difficult time.
I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. My whole life I was thrown away, you made me feel like I did mean something. I could not have asked for a better lawyer. Your compassion and love for your job is inspiring. Your upfront and honesty were muchly appreciated, you are a beautiful person. Thank you for not giving up on me and thank you for all the work you put in. I wish you all the best for the future and I will be recommending you to everyone I know. You're amazing!!!!
I just wanted to thank you for representing me on Monday, I was overjoyed & relieved with the outcome. I don’t think it could have gone any better. All the best, I hope you got to celebrate this one instead after work, you forever made a difference in my life.
I know I thanked you before we parted company but please allow me to reiterate in writing my sincere deepest thanks for defending me in court today. … Armstrong Legal certainly has a great Lawyer you are a credit to the company and I'm quite sure you will secure a very successful future! … My Kindest Regards and Thanks
Throughout Angela has been the consummate professional. She maintained a calm, yet strong demeanour remained informative and completely open in her communication and took complete ownership of the situation. We felt confident we finally had an advocate to steer us out of the nightmare we were in, and she did so with great respect and sincerity. I cannot speak more highly of Angela. She has literally rescued our family from what looked very much like a hopeless future.
Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Trudie Cameron being my solicitor and to Andrew Tiedt presenting my case in the court. They both have been very supportive and amazingly professional and effective. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic outcome I couldn’t even dream about.
Soon after meeting Andrew I knew he was the solicitor I wanted to handle my matter. He immediately sprang into action which brought me stability and hope during a tumultuous time in my life. Andrew was never afraid to give me straight answers to my tough questions which is a true mark of integrity. He is clearly at ease in the court environment and I believe his calm and measured demeanour went a long way to helping me secure the best result from my day in court. I would certainly recommend you approach Andrew if you need assistance.
"Andrew Tiedt was very professional and considerate to personal circumstances and gave sound advice that resulted in the best outcome possible. Highly recommended."
The Defence of Honest and Reasonable Mistake (Vic)
Most criminal offences require the accused to have acted either intentionally or recklessly as to the offending conduct. However, there are a number of offences, especially under the Road Safety Act, which are ‘strict liability’ offences. This means that the state of mind of the accused when they committed the offence is irrelevant. For example, it does not matter whether the accused intended to drive whilst suspended, or whether the accused was reckless as to it, all that matters is that the accused did drive whilst their licence was suspended. For these offences, the defence of honest and reasonable mistake of fact is available.
What is honest and reasonable mistake of fact?
When an offence is a strict liability offence, the defences which are available are very limited. An accused may argue factual defences (eg. that their licence was actually not suspended). However, the only legal defence available to strict liability offences is that the accused committed the offence as a result of an honest and reasonable mistake of fact. To succeed with this defence, the accused must show that they held an honest belief of a certain state of affairs and facts, which had they been correct would have rendered the offending act innocent. They must also show that the belief was reasonable.
An example of when a person may rely on this defence is when an accused charged with driving while suspended honestly held the reasonable belief that their licence was valid and not suspended. Whilst many persons may easily be able to argue that they had the honest belief that such was the case, the hurdle of demonstrating that the belief was reasonable is significant.
When can honest and reasonable mistake be argued?
Notably, though whilst almost all offences under the Road Safety Act are strict liability offences, there are also a number of offences under the Crimes Act, such as dealing with suspected proceeds of crime, where this defence is available.
Mistake of fact vs mistake of law
It is also important to note that the mistaken belief must be in relation to a matter of fact and not a matter of law. One cannot enliven this defence by saying it was the accused’s honest but mistaken belief that it was not illegal to drive whilst suspended. One can only enliven the defence by saying it was their honest though mistaken belief that their licence was not suspended.
To summarise, the following three elements must be proven in order to successfully rely on this defence:
- The mistaken belief was a genuinely bona fide honest belief held by the accused at the time of the offending;
- The mistaken belief must have been reasonable in the circumstances; and
- The mistaken belief related to a fact, not law.
With respect to the reasonableness of the mistaken belief, arguably the hardest element to make out, it is relevant to note that the standard that applies is an objective standard. The reasonableness of the accused’s belief will be measured objectively by the observed circumstances.
Once the defence of honest and reasonable mistake is raised by an accused or their legal representatives, the onus is on the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that the mistaken belief was either not honestly held, not reasonably held or not a mistake of fact.
A number of key cases have considered the defence of honest and reasonable mistake. They can be summarised as follows:
- Proudman v Dayman  established that the mistaken belief must be a positive belief formed by the accused not just mere ignorance;
- Knight v R (1992) 175 CLR 495 established that if the facts of a case allow for an inference consistent with the accused’s innocence, then the accused must be given the benefit of doubt. This applies to the consideration of this defence;
- He Kaw Teh v The Queen , established, in furtherance of Proudman v Dayman, that the accused must have expressly turned their mind to a particular fact and made the honest mistake which was reasonable in the circumstances. The accused must have done more than just not considered the matter at all.
- Mei Ying Su and Others v Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Another (no2) (2008) confirmed at  that the defence:
- does not involve the hypothetical ordinary or reasonable person test.
- it requires that the belief be that of the accused
- it requires that the accused’s belief be objectively reasonable, that is, rational, based on reason, or capable of sustaining belief and
- it requires the objective reasonableness of the accused’s belief to be assessed by reference to the subjective circumstances in which the accused was placed, including the accused personal attributes and the information available to him at the time.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.
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WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.
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