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What Is a Clerical Error?

There is a possibility that some legal documents may contain scrivener’s error, or what is commonly referred to as clerical error. This mistake is done by a clerk, secretary, or office assistant whose duty it is to record or draft the legal document. A clerk error is unintentional and is easy to remedy given that there are existing mechanisms that prepare for such eventuality.

A clerk error may be remedied by changing the document so as to remove the mistake and to reflect the original meaning of the document. This mechanism is different from altering the document since the remedy does not alter the original meaning in anyway but restores it. A clerk error is also different from a misprision due to the intentionality of the act. Misprision is a deliberate alteration of the document’s meaning while a clerical error is accidental and does not change the original meaning of the document.

In order to avoid clerical errors, an attorney should review legal documents, especially those of a great degree of significance, before acquiescing and signing such documents. A review may help prevent incidents that pass judgment based on a clerical error, as was the case in Ortiz vs. State of Florida wherein Ortiz was convicted of a felony for marijuana possession when he was only guilty of misdemeanor. A clerical error was made in the number of grams of marijuana Ortiz had in his possession, thus changing the charges from that of a misdemeanor to that of a felony.

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