New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



Jurisprudence (2014, Forthcoming)


This paper argues against Gideon Yaffe’s defense of the doctrine that mistakes of law should not excuse offered in his paper "Excusing Mistakes of Law." I question Yaffe's strategy for defending the distinction drawn between excuses based on mistakes of law and excuses based on mistakes of fact. In particular, I question whether Yaffe's reliance on the notion of deliberation can do the work he suggests it can in providing a normative defense for the fact that "false beliefs about non-legal facts often excuse, but false beliefs about the law rarely excuse."

Date of Authorship for this Version



mistake of fact, mistake of law, deliberation, responsibility, criminal law