People are often told that "ignorance is no excuse" in terms of law. You can't simply say you didn't know you were breaking the law and get off without a penalty.

However, some have argued that this theory is outdated, with so many modern laws on the books, and that ignorance is both understandable and a valid reason for some legal breaches.

Inherently Wrong

The issue, it's been argued, is that ignorance doesn't absolve someone of actions that are "inherently" wrong. You don't have to know that murder is illegal to know that killing someone is wrong, essentially.

Wrongs by Prohibition

That certainly does not encompass all crimes, however. Many things in the modern United States are merely illegal because laws have been passed to make them illegal. They're not inherently wrong. If not for the legal statutes, there would be no issue.

Of course, these things are still illegal because those laws exist. But that doesn't mean that the average man or woman should know that without any outside information.

Take marijuana, for example. It's now been legalized recreationally in numerous states. However, it remains illegal under law in most states. It's also illegal to transport it over state lines, even if both states have legalized it.

However, it's easy to see how someone could be ignorant of these exact prohibitions. Owning a plant is not something that is inherently wrong. If the person knows owning a certain amount is legal, it's not inherently wrong to own more of it.

Granted, it is important for people to understand the laws in various states, and there is an obligation to understand what is required. However, this just illustrates how modern law often breaks away from moral law, making it far easier for people to accidentally break the law when they believed they were doing nothing wrong.

Your Rights

Again, ignorance isn't likely to get you out of charges, even if it's justified. Be sure you know your legal defense options.

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