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Thread: Impact of interpretations of statutes via law enforcement or state agencies

  1. #1
    Regular Member Rich B's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Impact of interpretations of statutes via law enforcement or state agencies

    This is an FYI for people who are wondering what effect an interpretation of the law written by, for instance, the state police may have.

    Sec. 53a-6. Effect of ignorance or mistake.

    (a) A person shall not be relieved of criminal liability for conduct because he engages in such conduct under a mistaken belief of fact, unless: (1) Such factual mistake negates the mental state required for the commission of an offense; or (2) the statute defining the offense or a statute related thereto expressly provides that such factual mistake constitutes a defense or exemption; or (3) such factual mistake is of a kind that supports a defense of justification.
    (b) A person shall not be relieved of criminal liability for conduct because he engages in such conduct under a mistaken belief that it does not, as a matter of law, constitute an offense, unless (1) the law provides that the state of mind established by such mistaken belief constitutes a defense, or unless (2) such mistaken belief is founded upon an official statement of law contained in a statute or other enactment, an administrative order or grant of permission, a judicial decision of a state or federal court, or an interpretation of the statute or law relating to the offense, officially made or issued by a public servant, agency or body legally charged or empowered with the responsibility or privilege of administering, enforcing or interpreting such statute or law.
    It has been represented and questioned with regards to various documents and opinions obtained by and from the state that those documents that they may not have an effect in court or with the police. It is important that people in the state have the proper facts.
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    Rich,

    What about items such as the DESPP's "FAQS REGARDING P.A. 13-3, As Amended by P.A. 13-220" (http://www.ct.gov/despp/lib/despp/sl...06192013.pdf)? It would seem to meet the definition of " interpretation of the statute or law relating to the offense". Then they add the disclaimer:

    NOTICE:
    THE CONTENT OF THIS DOCUMENT IS INTENDED
    FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES
    NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.

    Does this disclaimer negate it as meeting the requirements of Sec 53a-6?

    Another example might be the instructions on private sales at http://www.ct.gov/despp/cwp/view.asp?a=4213&q=494616 where it states "Sales of long arms between non-licensed dealers, commonly referred to as second hand sales, require no paperwork or notification" or is that actually correct?

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    Regular Member Rich B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skinnedknuckles View Post
    Does this disclaimer negate it as meeting the requirements of Sec 53a-6?
    The statute says:

    an interpretation of the statute or law relating to the offense, officially made or issued by a public servant, agency or body legally charged or empowered with the responsibility or privilege of administering, enforcing or interpreting such statute or law.
    I would imagine they would argue that it doesn't apply in court, but I don't see how it doesn't.

    Fact is, I don't think too many people know about or use this statute as a defense, so it will be difficult to know until then. Their FAQs are not 'legal advice' perhaps, but they are official interpretations, which is what the statute quoted is looking for.
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    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...=en&as_sdt=4,7

    State v. Fiocchi, 17 Conn. App. 326 - Conn: Appellate Court 1989

    The elements of making a claim that one should not be found criminally liable is explained in this appellate court decision.

    Reading this decision with the idea that the FAQs have meaning under the statue 53a-6 likely would not be a correct assessment.

    See the footnotes in the opinion linked ... if anyone has case law different, please post.


    Also, the statue is NOT an affirmative defense.
    Last edited by davidmcbeth; 10-27-2013 at 11:30 PM.

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