• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Defences in criminal law.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Defences When someone is charged with an offence there are various different defences that may be available to them. These defences are Insanity, Automatism, Intoxication, Mistake, Self-Defence and Consent. Insanity Insanity is available to all offences where Mens Rea is required. It is not available for strict liability offences where no mental element is required. The legal definition of insanity is not the same as the medical definition. It is not common for defendants to plead insanity because most insane defendants are hospitalised under the mental health act before they go to trial. The legal definition of insanity arose from the case of M'Naughten (1843). From the definition it can be seen that three elements need to be proved. These are 1.) There must be a defect of reason. This means that the defendant's powers of reasoning must be impaired. This does not cover absent-mindedness or confusion. 2.) This must be the result of a disease of the mind. This disease can be a mental disease or a physical disease which affects the mind (Kemp 1956). ...read more.

Middle

When the defendant does not know that his actions might lead to a self induced automatic state in which he may commit an offence, he has not been reckless and can use the defence of automatism. Intoxication This covers intoxication by alcohol, drugs or other substances, such as glue-sniffing. When a defendant relies on intoxication he does so to show that he doesn't have the necessary Mens Rea. Whether the defendant is guilty or not depends on whether the intoxication was voluntary or involuntary and whether the offence charged is one of specific or basic intent. Specific intent offences are murder and S18 OAPA. Basic intent offences are manslaughter, S20 & S47 OAPA, assault and battery. Voluntary intoxication can negate the Mens Rea for a specific intent offence, e.g. if the defendant is so intoxicated that he has not formed the Mens Rea for the offence, he is not guilty (Sheehan and Moore 1975). When the offence charged is one of basic intent then intoxication is not a defence, because recklessness is enough to constitute the necessary Mens Rea (Majewski 1977). ...read more.

Conclusion

Was the defendant under actual or threatened attack from the victim? 2.) Did the defendant act only to defend himself from the victim? 3.) Was his response in proportion to the degree of danger?. Section 3(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 states that "a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime". If force is used after all danger from the assailant is over then the defence of self-defence is not available, and if excessive force is used the defence will fail (Clegg 1995). Consent Consent is available as a defence for assaults where there is no injury or only a minor injury. It is never available for S18 & 20 OAPA, and is sometimes not available for S47 OAPA. This is because it is not seen to be in the public interest that people should try to cause, or should cause, each other ABH for no good reason. The Court of Appeal listed certain situations in which the consent of the victim is legally relevant and renders the conduct in question lawful, for example, surgical interference, sporting activity, tattooing & piercing. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Criminal Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Criminal Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How effective was the defence of intoxication?

    3 star(s)

    However, D can be found guilty of a lesser offence known as the fall back offence such as murder to manslaughter and GBH S20 to battery S20. Although, if there is no lesser offence then intoxication becomes a full defence such as theft and robbery.

  2. The justifiable use of force in self-defence depends entirely upon the circumstances in which ...

    The courts quashed her convictions as she had struck out in the "agony of the moment". It was said that it was not necessary for her to demonstrate a reluctance to fight. This may seem impractical as in some cases, there may be a chance to walk away safely resulting in no harm caused.

  1. Law - Unit 3 - Mock Exam Question

    For s.18 OAPA the actus reus is the same as s.20 however to fulfil the mens rea the defendant must have the intention to wound or cause grievous bodily harm. It is clear that Reg intended to cause grevious bodily harm on his victim so he would most likely be liable for section 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

  2. Property Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Police Powers of Search and Entry.

    the police have a reasonable argument for suspecting on what they will find, these include the following: * drugs * stolen goods * an offensive weapon * any article made or adapted for use in certain offences, for example a burglary or theft * knives * Any items which could damage or destroy the property, for example spray paint cans.

  1. Free essay

    police powers

    possible miscarriages of justice and decides if they should be referred to an appeal court. It was set up as a non-departmental body on 1 January 1997 and took over responsibility from the Home Office and Northern Ireland Office for reviewing suspected miscarriages of justice on 31 March 1997.

  2. List and explain the six most important cases for the law on insanity, explaining ...

    He claimed he had been sleepwalking. At his trial, the judge left automatism to the jury, who acquitted him. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld these acquittals. The leading judge said that ?accepting the medical evidence, the respondent?s mind was and its functioning must have been impaired at the relevant time but sleepwalking did not impair it.

  1. Explain the meaning of Actus reus and mens rea

    is transferred to the actual victim. This was illustrated in R v Latimer where A went to hit B with a belt which recoiled and hit C instead. Latimer?s intent to harm was transferred to C. The actus reus and the mens rea must still coincide so where A plans

  2. The History and Main Features of Criminal Law in the USA.

    This constitutional right implies that all persons will be treated with substantially equality. American ideas about the rights of the accused can be traced to the great English documents of liberty, such as the Magna Carta in 1215, and the English Bill of Rights 1689.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work