Insanity Defense in English Law Term Paper

Insanity Defense in English Law
Looks at the M'Naghten Rules on the insanity defense, including diminished responsibility and infancy as presented in English law.
# 147669 | 5,885 words | 8 sources | MLA | 2011
Published on Jun 05, 2011 in Law (International) , Law (Criminal) , Medical and Health (General) , Psychology (General)

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This paper first explains the differences between insanity and automatism when applied to an insanity defense. Next, the author reviews the drawbacks of these defenses in regards to judicial and medical interpretations as well as the role that sentencing plays in the class of the intellectually challenged. The paper evaluates reforms seeking to qualify and to abolish these defenses altogether.

Table of Contents:
Main Difference between Insanity and Automatism
Problems Arising from Broad Definitions of Mental Incapacity Defenses
The Components of the Defense of Insanity
Disease of the Mind
Defect of Reason
Comparison and Contrast of Duress and Necessity
The Constituent Elements

From the Paper:

"What constitute a 'disease of the mind' is a legal question and not a medical one. The legal meaning of this term was discussed in the leading case of Sullivan [1984]. In this case, D, who suffered from epilepsy, kicked his friend in the head during an epileptic seizure. At trial, the trial judge ruled that the defense of insanity would be available but not the defense of automatism. D, wishing to avoid the consequences of a plea of insanity, changed his plea to guilty and was convicted, but appealed on the grounds that he should have been able to plead automatism. Lord Diplock took this opportunity to clarify the meaning of 'disease of the mind'."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Clarkson, C., Necessary Action: a new defense, (2004) Crim LR 13
  • Cooper, J., Courts already respect the right to self defense, The Times, November 30, 2004
  • Herring J., Criminal Law, Text Cases and Materials, (1st Ed., 2004)
  • Law Commission, Partial Defenses to Murder, (Final Report, August 2004)
  • Reed, A., Necessity, Lawful Excuse and the Offence of Criminal Damage, (2004) Smith.

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