In reality there is no separate defence called ‘mistake’, although it is pleaded as part of the defence case. The accused argues that at the time of commiting the actus reus he was labouring under a mistake as to the fact, and that this mistake should lead to his acquittal. This argument either amounts to a denial of the mens rea or forms part of a defence such as self-defence or duress. In this section we will consider mistakes which form the basis of a denial of mens rea.
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