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FINDLAW LEGAL DICTIONARY

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Mistake

mistake n

1 : an unintentional error esp. in legal procedure or form that does not indicate bad faith and that commonly warrants excuse or relief by the court [the court's power to revise a judgment because of fraud, , or irregularity] [a clerical ]
2 : an erroneous belief: as
a : a state of mind that is not in accordance with the facts existing at the time a contract is made and that may be a ground for the rescission or reformation of the contract
b : a misconception at the time of an offense alleged by a defendant

mistake of fact
1 : a mistake regarding a fact or facts esp. that significantly affects the performance of a contract
2 : a criminal defense that attempts to eliminate culpability on the ground that the defendant operated from an unintentional misunderstanding of fact rather than from a criminal purpose

mistake of law
: a mistake involving the misunderstanding or incorrect application of law in regard to an act, contract, transaction, determination, or state of affairs
;also
: a criminal defense alleging such a mistake NOTE: In both contract and criminal law a mistake of law is a weaker ground for relief or acquittal than a mistake of fact.

mutual mistake
: a mistake common to both parties to a contract who were in agreement about the purpose or terms of the contract [reformed the contract because of a mutual mistake ]

unilateral mistake
: a mistake on the part of one party to a contract that is usually not a ground for rescission or reformation unless one party stands to profit or benefit improperly from the mistake



Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.