Disease of Mind
- Any mental disorder which manifests itself in violence and is prone to recur
- This definition is legal not medical (Source 2, Line 17)
- TINDAL said that the rational is for people who shouldn't be convicted because they have a lack of intelligence or reasning power or ability to foresee consequences (Source 2, Lines 22-35)
- Disease of body and Disease of mind are the same (KEMP 1957)
- This definition includes medical illnesses as well as physical illnesses (SULLIVAN 1984), (BRATTY 1963), HENNESSY (1989) and BURGESS (1991)
- 'Mind' has been interpreted in the ordinary sense of the mental faculties of reasoning, memory and understanding
- It doesn't have to be permanent but present at the time of offenence
- It can be functional or organic, which manifested itself in violence (Source 3, Lines 32-33)
Defect of Reason
- Disease of Mind must lead to a Defect of Reason
- This means that the defendent is incapable of reasoning
- If the defendant is capable of reasoning but failed to use those powers - this doesn't count as a Defect of Reason
- CLARKE - had a temporary absent mindedness but this doesn't amount to a defect of reason
Impair D's ability to understand the nature/qualit
- This refers to the physical nature of the act
- Did the defendant know what he/she was doing?
- A jury must be satisfied that the defendant didn't know that what he/she was doing was legally wrong (It doesn't mean knowing whether what he/she was doing was morally wrong)
- D may be insane if he/she didn't know what he/sshe was actually doing
- This covers 2 situations
1) If D was unconscious or asleep he/she wouldn't know what he/she was doing (BURGESS)
2) If conscious, D might think he's attacking something else but its actually a person. Therefore, the defendant doesn't understand what he/she is doing.
D was unaware that his/her conduct was wrong
- If D knew the nature and quality of the act but still didn't realise it was wrong
- The D can still come within he rules of insanity
- If D insits that it was right for him to kill, D would be aware that he has killed but it was believed to be wright, therefore he was doing no wrong
- If D realised the nature and quality of the act and realised that they were doing wrong
- Then D can't doesn't fall under the scope of the M'Naghten rules
- Does 'Wrong' mean legally wrong or morally wrong
- WINDLE 1952 - CA clarified the position when Lord Goddard said that 'wrong means legally wrong'
- JOHNSON 2007 - CA reconsidered the decision in WINDLE. They thought it was strict but decided to follow it
- In England and Wales, 'wrong' means 'legally wrong'
- In Canada and Australia the courts don't follow WINDLE as they defined 'wrong' as morally wrong not legally wrong
1991 Act and 2004 Act
- These Acts have tried to make the aituation easier by giving the judge wider powers to deal with D in the even of a special verdict of 'not guilty by reason of insanity'
- The special verdict was developed out of the Trial of Lunatics Act 1883
- Before 1991 a judge had to order the defendant to be detained in hospital
- This led to D's changing thier pleas to guilty when they were porbably innocent
- The special verdict was seen as the 'psychiatric equivalent of a life sentence' (Source 4, Line 10)
- Since 1991 the situation has improved because the judge has more discretion in terms of sentences, although the stigma of insanity remains
- In cases of murder, a restriction order must accompany any hospital order
Criticisms of the M'Naghten rules
- They seem very outdated and modern scientific knowledge has not been taken into account
- Parliament needs to review this area of law and update the definition of insanity
- There is an overlap with automatism which has created uncertainty
- The definition of insanity has become a legal one rather than a medical one
- Psychopaths who suffer from irresistible impulses don't come under the M'Naghten rules because they know what they are doing and that it is wrong, There is no irresistible impulse defence
- There is a confusing situation where the rules applu to people who are not within medical insanity - SULLIVAN, BRATTY, HENNESSY and BURGES
- However, they exclude people who are mentally ill - WINDLE and JOHNSON
- The emphasis on legality in deciding whether D knew that his conduct was wrong is too narrow
- There has been overreliance on the external factor test that has produced some bizarre results
- It has been argued that the law rightly focuses on public protection but at the expense of the defendant
Criticisms Continued & Reforms
- The stigma of the word 'insanity' means that few use the defence.
- 9,000 people in prison have mental illnesses, but the Law Commission says that there are 30 successful pleas of insanity
- This is an improvement as there were only 25 successful pleas from 1974-1996
- In murder cases only, the defence of insaniyt overlaps with diminshed responsibility
Proposals for Reform
- The word 'insanity' itself is not appropriate and the Law Commission proposed suggested changes to the wording
- Reform is long overdue and should be focused on a redefinition of legal insanity within the M'Naghten rules
- They want to change the special verdict to 'not guilrt by reason of a mental disorder'
- They want to change terms such as 'Disease of Mind' and 'Defect of Reason'