Honest and Reasonable Mistake

This defence is only available for strict liability offences, i.e. where the Prosecution does not need to prove that the Accused intended to commit the alleged offending.

Honest and Reasonable Mistake can be used to argue that the Accused did not realise or know that what they were doing was wrong.

This defence is most commonly used with the charge of Driving whilst Authorisation is Suspended. The Accused may have an honest and reasonable belief that their licence was valid.

It is also often used to defend the charge of Dealing with Property Suspected of Being the Proceeds of Crime (section 195 of the Crimes Act).

In order for this defence to be successful, both elements of ‘honest’ and ‘reasonable’ must be established. It is very common however for only the first element to be met.

e.g. The Accused did not know they were suspended or disqualified from driving because they did not receive a letter from VicRoads, but the reason they did not receive a letter was because they had not updated their address with VicRoads.

In this example, the reason for the unreceived mail is not a reasonable mistake, therefore only the first element of ‘honest’ is met.