AUtumatisum and duress eassay GRADE A


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The basis of the defence of automatism is the defendant’s inability to control his or her actions.It has long been accepted that a defendant will only face criminal liability for his or her actions if they were performed voluntarily. With the defence of automatism, a defendant claims that the actus reus was involuntary and argues that therefore he or she should not be convicted of the offence. Since the defendant is denying the actus reus, automatism may be used as a defence to all crimes, including those classed as strict liability offences .Automatism acts as a complete defence, and a successful plea means that the defendant will be found not guilty.

In order to rely on automatism, the defendant must show that there was a complete loss of voluntary control. The total loss of control must be due to an external factor. This is the key difference between insanity and automatism. The courts have given examples of what constitutes an external factor. These include a blow to the head, being stung by a bee, being given anaesthetic, a reflex action, being hypnotised and suffering from severe shock or post-traumatic stress disorder . Some example cases that define the courts view of automatism is T 1990 where the defendant was ***** 3 days later she took part in a robbery and an assault , at the time she claimed she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the **** the judge allowed the defence of automatism to be used but the jurry rejected it and the defendant was convicted.

If the automatism was caused by voluntary consumption of drugs or alcohol, the defendant cannot rely on this defence and will be subject to the rules of intoxication instead. If the defendant’s automatism is caused by something other than alcohol or drugs, he or she may be able to use the defence, although this is dependent upon on whether he or she knew there was a risk of getting into such a condition. An example of a successful defence for self induced automatism is R v Hardie 1984 where the defendant was depressed beacuase his girlfriend told him to move out of the flat. He took some of her valium tablets to calm himself down, he then set fire to the wardrobe he said he did not know what he was doing beacause of the tablets, the case ruled that where the defendant does not know his actions are likely to lead to a self automatic state where he may comit an offence he has not been reckless and may use the defence of automatism.If the defendant seeks to rely on automatism, he or she must raise the defence and will usually require medical evidence in order to do so. Once the defence has been raised, it is for the prosecution to disprove.

The courts have tried to restrict the availability of automatism because it




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