Deliberate Ignorance Law and Legal Definition

Deliberate ignorance means, intentionally ignoring a fact when one has every reason to believe about its existence. When knowledge of existence of a particular fact is an essential part of an offence, such knowledge may be established if the person is aware of a high probability of its existence, unless s/he actually believes that it does not exist.

Deliberate ignorance may be established when:

1)The person actually knew about a particular fact.

2)The person deliberately closed his/her eyes to what s/he had every reason to believe was the fact.

3)The requisite proof of knowledge on the part of a person cannot be established by merely demonstrating that s/he was negligent, careless or foolish.

In U.S. v. Cartwright, Fifth Circuit Court held that, a deliberate ignorance instruction may constitute harmless error where no evidence of conscious ignorance exists. [6 F.3d 294 (5th Cir. Tex. 1993)] Error may also be harmless where the evidence of actual knowledge is so overwhelming as to compel a guilty verdict. [United States v. Rivera, 944 F.2d 1563 (11th Cir. Fla. 1991)]