Mistake of fact regarding trespassing

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Mistake of fact regarding trespassing

I am 17 and I recently got a ticket for trespassing in an abandoned state hospital and we’re to appear in court next week. My belief was that if property is abandoned then it is not trespassing because nobody owns the land. However, after receiving a ticket I now know that it is trespassing either way. Is there anyway that mistake of fact is a reasonable defense?

Asked on July 13, 2018 under Criminal Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, mistake of fact is not a reasonable defense here because whether the land is abandoned or not, you *knew* that it did not belong to you, your family, or to anyone who had given you permission to enter it; hence, you knew it was land that you did not have authority or permission to be on. Therefore, the key element of trespassing is not something you can raise "mistake of fact" as a defense. 

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