Three Examples of the Texas Mistake of Fact Defense

One of the defenses available in Texas criminal law is Mistake of Fact found in Section 8.02 of the Texas Penal Code. Mistake of fact is a defense only when a defendant, because of a mistaken belief in a fact, forms a reasonable belief that negates a culpable mental state required to obtain a conviction. Here are three examples of mistake of fact scenarios:

1. Murder Case. When the defendant claimed she thought a gun was unloaded and pulled the trigger intentionally and killed her husband was entitled to have the jury consider the Mistake of Fact defense in the courts charge.

2. Injury to a Child. The defense of mistake of fact raised where the defendant mistakenly believed the child’s bath water was normal, but scalded her.

3. Unauthorised Use of a motor vehicle. The mistake of fact defense raised when the defendant testified that a friend had given him the keys to the car and asked him to run an errand.



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