Criticising Insanity (2)

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  • Insanity Criticisms
    • Introduction
      • Law Commission identified several problems
      • A insanity and automatism discussion paper in 2013 described insanity as unfair and outdated.
    • Overlaps with automatism
      • Must be decided if a persons automatic state is caused by a external or internal factor
        • Any internal cause amounts to insanity, do if the defendant is is a automatic state he can only please insanity,
      • Insanity and automatism are different in that to plead automatism the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defence applies. But for insanity the burden off proof is on the defenant
        • This allows for confusion
    • Position of diabetics
      • This is clearly illustrated in the cases of Quick and Hennessey
        • Insanity and automatism are different in that to plead automatism the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defence applies. But for insanity the burden off proof is on the defenant
          • This allows for confusion
        • In Quick the defendant took insulin but didn't eat and attacked someone. This was automatism.
          • This cases are ctisitsied because they are both similar, but have different defences. This is because of the external/ internal factors attached to insanity and automatism. It would seem more consistent to have the same outcomes for causes involving diabetics, and any illnesses for that matter.
            • In Hennessey the defendant didn't take his insulin and stole a care. This was insanity
        • In Hennessey the defendant didn't take his insulin and stole a care. This was insanity
    • The decision in Windle
      • To plead insanity the defendant must not know the nature and quality of his act or must not know what he was doing was wrong
      • In Windle, the defendant said ''I suppose I'll hang for this'' after killing his wife
        • The House of Lords said that this showed he knew what he was doing was wrong.
          • The Court of Appeal wasn't sure if this was ''good law'' as the man had a mental illness and may have not intended, under normal circumstances, to do what he did.
            • They were forced to follow the House of Lords decision, showing uncertainty in legal decisions.
  • Reforms
    • The Butler Committee suggested the verdict of ''not guilty by reason of insanity'' should be replaced by the verdict of ''not guilty on evidence of a mental disorder'' (The 1989 Law Commission Drafts Criminal Code supported this)
    • More recently the Law Commission published a discussion paper in July 2013 setting out several proposals for reform...
      • They said people should be exempt from criminal responsibility if they could not have avoided committing a crime.
      • The defence would only be available to a total lack of capacity and not a partial one.
      • The accused must not be fault of their lack of capacity (such as drinking)
      • The defence of insanity should include all psychological or psychiatric conditions, like epilepsy or Alzheimers.

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