“ignorance of the law is no defence”

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How does a prosecutor prove that somebody knew the law? It's maybe not totally fair to expect the common man to know every law but as has been said, the alternative is far less desirable. There can't be that many criminal convictions where the offending party didn't know what the law was anyway.
 
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weasel knees

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A copper freind of mine once told me that you couldn't be done for shoplifting unless they could prove intent. She said that if you say you meant to pay for it but forgot you had it then you couldn't be charged.

I reckon its bullshit like but just saying.
Intention to permanently deprive the shop of the goods is an element of the crime. In practice, the prosecution says "He left the shop without paying. Ergo, he intended to permanently deprive..." That'll be enough.

If the perp says, "Ah ha! I did intend to pay for it, I just forgot" then it will come down to whether or not the jury/magistrate believe him or her.
 
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