Defences: Automatism

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 04-06-14 22:08
Definition (Bratty v Attorney-General for Northern Ireland (1963))
An act done by the muscles without any control by the mind, such as a spasm, a reflex action or a convulsion; or an act done by a person who is not conscious of what he doing such as an act done whilst suffering from concussion or sleep-walking.
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Two type Automatism included in defintion
1. Insane Automatism (Look at notes on Insanity) 2. Non-insane Automatism - this is where the cause of automatism is an external one.
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If the automatism defence is successful...
The defendant is not guilty, therefore it is a complete defence.
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Hill v Baxter (1958)
Held that there is no fault when the defendant was in an automatic state through an external cause.
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T (1990)
Held that exceptional stress can be an external factor which may cause automatism.
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Attorney-General's Reference (No 2 of 1992) (1993)
Held that reduced or partial control of one's actions is not sufficient to constitute non-insane automatism.
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Self-Induced Automatism: Definition
This is where D knows that his conduct is likely to bring on an automatic state, e.g. a diabetic who fails to eat after taking his insulin.
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Self-Induced Automatism: Bailey (1983)
Although the appeal was dismissed, the CoA said that there is a difference in the way the defence applies to specific intent offences and basic intent offences.
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Self-Induced Automatism: Specific Intent Offences
If the offence charges is one of specific intent, then self-induced automatism can be a defence. This is because D lacks the required mens rea for the offence.
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Self-Induced Automatism: Basic Intent Offences (Part 1)
The main rule is that D cannot use the defence of automatism if has a brought about the automatic state by being reckless. The law was set out in Bailey (1983).
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Self-Induced Automatism: Basic Intent Offences (Part 2)
1. If D has been reckless in getting into a state of automatism, self-induced automatism cannot be a defence. Subjective recklessness is sufficient for the MR of basic intent offences.
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Self-Induced Automatism: Basic Intent Offences (Part 3)
2. Where the self-induced automatic state is caused through intoxicating substances, D cannot use the defence of automatism. DPP v Majewski (1977) held that voluntary intoxication is a reckless course of conduct.
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Self-Induced Automatism: Basic Intent Offences (Part 4)
3. Where D does not know that his actions are likely to cause a self-induced automatic state in which he may commit an offence, he has not been reckless so can use the defence of automatism.
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Self-Induced Automatism: Hardie (1984)
D took Valium as he thought it would calm him down but he ended up setting fire to a wardrobe. CoA quashed his conviction of arson and held that the defendant had not been reckless as he thought the drug would calm him down.
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Comments on the Law on Automatism: Deciding Type of Automatism
The main problem is whether the situation is one of insane or non-insane automatism. This is very important as the effect of each type of automatism defence is so different.
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Comments on the Law on Automatism: Deciding Type of Automatism
Situations which would seen to be non-insane to a non-lawyer, e.g a sleepwalker, may in law be considered to be insane.
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Comments on the Law on Automatism: Abolish the Internal/External Divide Doctrine (Part 1)
The divide leads to anomalies, one notable one being the case of a person with diabetes (Quick). The difficulty with this is directing the jury when either sane or insane automatism is a possibility.
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Comments on the Law on Automatism: Abolish the Internal/External Divide Doctrine (Part 2)
If there is no distinction between the two, either all cases will have to be pleaded under insanity (or an alternative defence used, e.g lack of MR) or some other criterion will be used to distinguish the two e.g risk of recurrence/ risk to public.
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Proposals for Reform: Draft Criminal Code (1989) Definition (Part 1)
A person is not guilty of an offence if: 1. He acts in a state of automatism, that is, his act, 2. is a reflex, spasm or convulsion; or
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Proposals for Reform: Draft Criminal Code (1989) Definition (Part 2)
3. Occurs whilst he is in a condition (whether or sleep, unconsciousness, impaired consciousness or otherwise) depriving him of effective control of his act; and
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Proposals for Reform: Draft Criminal Code (1989) Definition (Part 3)
4. The act or condition is the result of neither anything done or omitted with the fault required for the offence nor of voluntary intoxication.
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Proposals for Reform: Draft Criminal Code (1989) Definition (Part 4 - Epilepsy)
This definition would include those who act during an epileptic convulsion, so that cases such as Sullivan (1984) would be able to use the defence of non-insane automatism, which would be a welcome improvement to the law.
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Proposals for Reform: Draft Criminal Code (1989) Definition (Part 5 - Sleep-walking)
Also, cases of sleep-walking would come under this defence. This would have given Burgess (1991) the defence of non-insane automatism. Under the present law he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In both cases, Ds would have a full defence.
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Proposals for Reform: Draft Criminal Code (1989)
The current system allows a judge to order medical treatment for those found not guilty by a reason of insanity. Should there be a way of ensuring that Ds who commit a dangerous crime whilst in an automatic state should have medical help, if neede?
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Proposals for Reform: Argument Against the Draft Criminal Code (1989) Recommendations
It could be argued that a complete acquittal leaves a possibly dangerous person to - although not intentionally - do the same thing again.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

1. Insane Automatism (Look at notes on Insanity) 2. Non-insane Automatism - this is where the cause of automatism is an external one.

Back

Two type Automatism included in defintion

Card 3

Front

The defendant is not guilty, therefore it is a complete defence.

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

Held that there is no fault when the defendant was in an automatic state through an external cause.

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

Held that exceptional stress can be an external factor which may cause automatism.

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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