AQA A2 Law Unit 3 - Evaluations - Insanity and Automatism

  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 19-04-14 13:03

The Shift of the Burden of Proof

The Shift of the Burden of Proof

There is a different standard of proof depending of who raised the defence of insanity (Defence or Prosecution) 

Prosecution - Must be beyond reasonble doubt

Defence - Balance of probibility 

( This is likely to confuse the jury)

Wollmington v DPP (1935) - 

The burden of the prosecution must prove the Offence not the Defence

The defendant must prove that he is insane, This places the burden of proof on them 

( Breaches Human Rights act - Innocent until proven guilty) 

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The Definition of Insanity

The Definition of Insanity 

" Not Guilty by reason of Insanity"

Medical term is irrelevent - only legal term

  • People suffering from impulses and psychopaths don't come under Insanity (Byrne) as they know what they are doing and that it's wrong (M'Naughten

( However they cannot stop the acts and have a recognised medical disorder)

  • People who suffer from Physical illnesses such as heart disease (Kemp) or Sleepwalking (Burgess) are classed as Insane

( Alters definition as insane is classed mentally) 

  • Diabetes cases are not always the same - Too much insulin = Automatism (Quick), Not enough insulin = Insanity (Sullivan

- The law makes no difference between people who are a danger to society and those who suffer from illness which can be controlled by medication 

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Social Stigma

Social Stigma

Term Insanity carries a stigma 

  • Bad enough using it for people with mental disorders
  • Inappropriate  to use term for people suffering from diesases like epilepsy and diabetes
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The Ineffectiveness of the verdict

The Ineffectiveness of the verdict

If they have been found guilty by reasons of insanity - indefinate place is a secure hospital ( No definate sentencing) 

Conviction for murder or manslaughter = life sentence, but would not mean life

(many prefer the conviction and sentence as they know when they are getting out) 

Many don't raise the defence 

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The scope of the defence

The Scope of the defence

  • Presume no criminal responsibility due to the medical disorder 
  • Insanity overlaps with Automatism (Due to internal or external factors)

( Any illness placing them in a automatic state amounts of insanity)

  • Automatism = acquittal 
  • Insanity = Hospital order or another type on defendent

Windle - Suffering from a mental illness and does not know his act was morally wrong = no defence of insanity if he knows the act is legally wrong 

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  • Due to the vulnerability and increasing frequency - modern law should take into account modern science ( Modern psychiatric thinking)
  • Too many apposing laws and all very serious 1842 ( didn't understand insanity when first made)
  • Application is becoming artificial and difficult - Use of the word "Disease of the Mind"
  • Interpretation of the law causes problems - epilepsy may not count as a diease in one court 
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