Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The precise time when a man arrives at the age of twenty-one years is a fact, knowledge of which he derives necessarily from his parents, or other relatives or acquaintances having knowledge of the time of his birth. If acting in good faith, on information fairly obtained from them under an honest belief that he had reached the age, he votes, having the other necessary qualifications, illegal voting should not be imputed to him. The intent which makes up the crime cannot be affirmed. Whether he had the belief that he was a qualified voter, and the information was fairly obtained, should be referred to, and determined by the jury. The whole inquiry should be directed to the voter's knowledge of facts, and to his diligence in acquiring the requisite knowledge. If he votes recklessly or carelessly, when the facts are doubtful or uncertain, his ignorance should not excuse him, if the real facts show he was not qualified. If ignorant of the disqualifying fact, and without a want of diligence, under an honest belief of his right to vote, he should be excused, though he had not the right.
Defendant was convicted of voting before reaching the age of 21. His mother and another acquaintance who had known defendant since birth testified that he was old enough and that they had frequently told him he would be of age in the August preceding the election. The trial court refused to charge the jury that if defendant, in reliance on these statements, honestly believed he was of full age when he voted, he should not be convicted, if the evidence convinced the jury he was not of age. Defendant appealed.
Could the defendant be convicted of illegal voting, notwithstanding the fact that he was of the honest belief that he was of full age when he voted?
The court reversed and remanded, holding that defendant could not be convicted where he was mistaken about a fact necessary to form the criminal intent required for the crime charged and had not lacked diligence in trying to determine that fact. According to the court, if acting in good faith, on information fairly obtained from his parents, relatives, or acquaintances, under an honest belief that he had reached the age, the defendant voted, having the other necessary qualifications, illegal voting should not be imputed to him.