Examining the effects of “knowledge” on Criminal Liability and Criminal Defense

You should know the difference between two particular AZ Criminal Laws:
“One may lead to a dismissal of charges: the other a conviction”
Article by: James Novak, DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyer Arizona
Good AZ Criminal Defense Attorneys – Choose the Right Defenses
Arizona has two criminal laws that may involve defenses of “not having knowledge”. The wrong one if used as a defense would result in a disastrous outcome for the defendant. The other if used effectively, under right circumstances, may lead to a dismissal of DUI or criminal charges. That is why it is important to hire an experienced Arizona criminal attorney or DUI trial lawyer to defend your DUI or Criminal Charges in Arizona.

Arizona Criminal Laws – Comparison of Two Criminal Defenses

1. “A.R.S. Title 13, Chapter 2, 13-204. Effect of ignorance or mistake upon criminal liability”- Where “not knowing the law” is not a viable defense and in fact may lead to a conviction. In reader friendly terms this law states that if one “does not know the law”, it makes no difference, and they will be held criminally responsible. In Arizona, if a person knowingly commits an act, but claims they “didn’t know” it was a violation of the law, it does not matter In fact by claiming they did not know their conduct was a crime; is simply reinforcing to prosecution that they in fact committed the crime.

2. “A.R.S. Title 13 Chapter 34: 13-3405. Possession, use, production, sale or transportation of marijuana; classification Where “Not having knowledge” may lead to a dismissal of charges. This law applies to Arizona Drug laws; in it is a provision and requires that the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant was “knowingly” in possession of drugs, in order to get a conviction for the drug charges. In this case, if someone “did not know” they were in possession of the drugs, their criminal defense attorney would present compelling arguments to the effect that their client “was not knowingly in possession” of the drugs. This often times proves to be a most effective defense that results in suppression of evidence, and dismissal of charges.

Application of Two Arizona Laws and Defenses:

1) A.R.S. 13-204. In the first case one admits certain criminal conduct, but “does not know” their actions were against the law. (not a valid defense)
2) A.R.S. 13-3405. In the second case, involving drug charges, a person is charged with drug possession, but “does not know” they were in possession of drugs. (Justifiable defense).

Examples of each of the Two Arizona Laws and Defenses:

1) A.R.S. 13-204 – The accused is arrested for possessing dangerous and illegal drugs. They claim they knew they had the dangerous drugs, for intended personal use. They were promptly arrested. They insist they did not know it was against the law to have the particular dangerous illegal drugs in their possession. It does not matter. They have reinforced their dangerous drug possession charges in favor of the prosecution.

2) A.R.S. 13-3405 – A friend borrowed the accused person’s vehicle and inadvertently left a bag of Marijuana on back floor board of the car. The following evening, the owner of the vehicle was driving it and was stopped by police for a minor traffic infraction. As the police officer approached the vehicle they saw the bag of Marijuana in “plain sight”, and arrested the owner of the vehicle. Until then, the owner of the car did not k now the Marijuana was in the vehicle. A good AZ criminal defense lawyer will have a compelling argument that the accused was not “knowingly” in possession of the drugs.

If you face criminal charges in Arizona, be sure you consult and retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer in the state and county you received the DUI or criminal charges. DUI and criminal laws and defenses may differ in every state.

Source of Arizona Law: Arizona State Legislature
Arizona Revised Statutes azleg.gov


If you have been arrested; face active Arizona criminal or DUI charges, or have an existing warrant for your arrest in Maricopa County for Arizona DUI, DWI, drunk driving, drug or any other criminal charges contact the Law Office of James Novak, for your Free Consultation at (480) 413-1499. James Novak, experienced Arizona criminal Defense and DUI & Criminal defense Attorney, James Novak will speak with you directory concerning your charges, and provide you with defense options. James Novak is an experienced trial lawyer and former prosecutor The Law Office of James Novak is devoted 100% to defending DUI, Drug & criminal charges in valley wide within Maricopa County including Mesa AZ, Scottsdale AZ, Tempe AZ, Phoenix AZ, Chandler AZ, Gilbert AZ, East Valley, and surrounding cities within the Phoenix metro and Maricopa County Area.