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Defences: Insanity & Automatism Notes

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9. Defences:Insanity and Automatism Mental Impairment General Tensions

* Tensions between the rights of society to punish for crimes, and the rights of an individual who is not 'responsible' for his/her actions, due to mental impairment.

* Tensions between two disciplines: law and medicine / psychiatry Insanity (Mental Illness) The insanity defence allows a defendant who was seriously mentally impaired at the time of committing an offence to escape a conviction. The rules governing the insanity defence are as follows:

* It can only be used in the higher courts.

* The presumption is that the defendant is sane: M'Naghten's Case(1843)

* The presumption of capacity can only be displaced by evidence, usually medical evidence: Falconer (1990)

* The defence of insanity can be raised by both the defence and the prosecution.

* The standard of proof required is on the balance of probabilities: Ayoub [1984] 2 NSWLR 511. The test (element) for insanity defence is as follows:

* A jury has to ask whether, at the time of committing the act: M'Naghten's Case(1843):

1. Prerequisite:

* At the time of the offence,

* the accused was labouring under a defect of reason;

* A defect of reason means

* A defect of cognition (ie capacity re understanding) - not sufficient if merely confused/
forgetful

* A 'malfunction of mental faculties': Radford (1985)

* A defect of reason does not mean a defect of volition (i.e., exercise of will)

* Uncontrollable impulse, without more, not sufficient for mental illness defence: Sodeman (1936)

* Lack of emotional feeling or moral appreciation is not cognitive defect, and thus does not a defect of reason: Willgoss (1960)

* NB: Code jurisdictions (include Commonwealth) say not criminally responsible if can't control self.

Insulin Case: Paddisin (1973)

1. D diabetic took insulin but ate little and drank alcohol - committed assault

2. Trial: med evidence says D's hypoglycaemia
= mental illness, not Automatism.

3. CA: policy statement by Denning in Bratty too broad w/o qualification - can't send diabetic to mental hospital for low blood sugar reaction when easy remedy = lump of sugar!

4. Here: mental malfunction due to external factor (insulin) and not to disease of mind Hennessy (1989 UK):

1. D diabetic failed to take insulin for few days - hyperglycaemic - committed theft

2. In Quick, D's state of mind due to insulin (external), but here it was due to diabetes (internal)

3. It was held a disease of mind. Position in Australia unclear

* due to a disease of the mind;

* Disease of mind may be temporary or permanent: Porter (1933)

* Disease of mind concerned with "the understanding" - the mind's functions are thrown into disorder, i.e., disease of mind focuses on "the mind", not solely on physical deterioration of brain cells.

* Requires a disorder, merely a high emotional state of the 'normal' man does not count: (Mere excitability of a normal man, passion, even stupidity, obtuseness, lack of selfcontrol, and impulsiveness, are all quite different to a disease of mind)

* A mental disorder that 'manifests itself in violence and is prone to recur' is a disease of the mind (eg, schizophrenia): Bratty v AG (NI)

* A mental disorder arising from an external cause is not a disease of the mind:

* Mental malfunctioning of a transitory nature caused by some external factor such as violence, drugs, alcohol, etc, has been held not to be due to disease: Radford (1985). Quick
[1973]; Paddisin (1973) 1

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