A2 Law Defences - Lecture on Insanity


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A2 Law Defences - Lecture on Insanity

  1. 1. Defences Insanity
  2. 2. The M’Naghten Rules• The rules insanity are based on the M’Naghten Rules (1843):• D suffered from extreme paranoia. Tried to kill Englands PM, but instead shot and killed Peels secretary. D found not guilty of murder, but committed to a mental hospital because of his mental state. The main rule created by this case was:• ‘in all cases every man is presumed to be sane and to possess a sufficient degree of reason to be responsible for his crimes’.
  3. 3. Insanity• For the defence of insanity to be established …..• The defendant must be ‘labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.’
  4. 4. 3 Elements?.....• So three elements need to be proved:• 1) Defect of Reason• 2) Which must be the result of a disease of the mind• 3) Causing the defendant not to know the nature and quality of his act or not to know he was doing wrong.• The burden of proof is on the defence
  5. 5. Defect of reason• The defendants powers of reasoning must be impaired. If the defendant is capable of reasoning, but failed to use the power, this is not a defect of reason- CLARKE• Defect of reason must be more than just confusion or absent-mindedness
  6. 6. Clarke (1972)Mrs Clarke, absent-mindedly placed items into her bag whilst shopping. She had no recollection of this. Medical evidence given at her trial stated she was suffering from depression and was diabetic. The trial judge ruled that this raised the defence of insanity. Held: Short periods of absent-mindedness fell far short of amounting to a defect of reason.
  7. 7. Disease of the Mind• Defect of Reason must be due to Disease of the Mind. This can be a mental disease or a physical which affects the mind.• Kemp, Sullivan, Hennessy, Burgess, Quick• Kemp (1956): Hardening of the arteries caused loss of control during which the defendant attacked his wife with a hammer. This was an internal condition and a disease of the mind.
  8. 8. Sullivan (1984)• The defendant kicked and injured a man during a minor epileptic fit. The trial judge ruled that he was prepared to direct the jury on the defence of insanity.• The House of Lords held that epilepsy was a disease of the mind because the defendants mental faculties were impaired to the extent of causing a defect of reason. Disease can be any part of the body provided it has an effect on the mind.
  9. 9. Hennessy (1989)• Appellant had stolen a car and was stopped by the police. He was a diabetic and not been taking his insulin. The appellant had no recollection of taking the car. The trial judge ruled that the appropriate defence would be insanity. The appellant changed his plea to guilty and then appealed against his conviction. Held:• Appeal was dismissed. The hyperglycaemic state was caused by the disease of diabetes itself and not an outside factor of injection of insulin.
  10. 10. Burgess (1991)• Mr Burgess attacked his friend. She had fallen asleep when Burgess, allegedly sleepwalking, hit her over the head with a bottle. He subsequently picked up a video tape recorder and hit her on the head with it. He put his hands around her throat, and when she said, "I love you Bar," it appeared that he came to his senses, and he called for an ambulance.• Held that defendant was not guilty by reason of insanity. This case set the legal status of committing violence while sleepwalking a form of insanity.
  11. 11. External factors – Quick (1973)• The appellant was a charge nurse in a hospital. He attacked one of his patients whilst on duty. The appellant sought to raise the defence of automatism as at the time of the attack he was hypoglycaemic, in that he had taken too much insulin and eaten very little. In addition he had consumed alcohol. The trial judge ruled that this gave rise not to automatism but insanity. The defendant then changed his plea to guilty and appealed. Held:• The appeal was allowed and the conviction was quashed. His hypoglycaemia was caused not by his diabetes but by the external factor of insulin.
  12. 12. Not knowing the nature and quality of the act• Defendant many not know the nature and quality of his act if:• 1)he is in a state of unconsciousness or impaired consciousness• 2)when he is conscious but due to his mental condition he does not understand nor know what he is doing.• Windle, Johnson
  13. 13. Windle (1952)• The appellant killed his wife. She was suicidal and he administered an aspirin overdose. Medical evidence supported the view that he was suffering from a mental condition at the time of the crime. On arrest he said to the police, "I suppose they will hang me for this". The trial judge refused to allow the defence of insanity to be put before the jury as he had demonstrated that he realised that what he was doing was unlawful. Held:• The appeal was dismissed. The trial judge was correct to refuse the defence of insanity. Wrong, for the purposes of the MNaghten rules, meant unlawful. It did not matter that he thought his actions were not morally wrong.
  14. 14. Johnson (2007)• The defendant suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and hallucinations, He forced his way into his neighbours flat and stabbed him.• CA held that defence of insanity was not available as D knew the nature and quality of his acts and that they were legally wrong.
  15. 15. Acronym• Now using all of the cases think of an acronym to help you remember them.• You have 5 minutes.
  16. 16. Special Verdict• When a defendant successfully proves insanity the jury must return a verdict of ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’. Under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) 1991 Act the judge can now impose:• 1) a hospital order• 2) A supervision order• 3) An absolute discharge
  17. 17. Problems with the law of insanity?..• The definition of insanity was set in 1843. At this time medical knowledge was very limited, It needs to be updated in light of modern understanding of mental illnesses.• Another problem is the definition is a legal one-not medical!• -So people who suffer from certain mental disorders do not come into the definition, like psychopaths. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they cant prevent it• -However those suffering from physical disorders come into it, like sleep walking, even if it is treatable.
  18. 18. The Overlap with Automatism• Insanity overlaps with automatism-an act done by the muscles without any control of the mind. So its necessary to decide whether the defendants automatic state is due to a mental illness or external factors.• This has extreme consequences as those using the defence of automatism successfully are entitled to a complete acquittal. Whereas, on a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity, the judge has to impose some order on the defendant.
  19. 19. • It could be argued that the reason courts are reluctant to al defendants to use the full defence of automatism is because it may lead to an acquittal and defendants will be free from supervisions or orders.
  20. 20. Proof• The defendant has to prove that he is insane.• The role of the jury is to decide if the defendant is insane or not. So people with no medical knowledge have to make a ‘medical decision’.• This means theres potential for jurors to be confused by technical terminology.• Also jurors might be so revolted by the crimes they will refuse to return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
  21. 21. Activity• In Pairs, using your textbook, find the 3 proposals for reform that were made.
  22. 22. Proposals for Reform• There are several proposals for reform on the law on insanity.• 1)In 1953, the Royal Commission on Capita; Punishment suggested the M’Naghten Rules should also cover where the defendant was ‘incapable of preventing himself from committing the offence.• -However instead the government introduced the defence of diminished responsibility.
  23. 23. • 2) The butler committee suggested the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity should be replaced by verdict of not guilty on evidence of mental disorder.
  24. 24. • 3) In 1989 the Law Commission Drafts Criminal Code proposed that a defendant should be not guilty on evidence of severe mental disorder/handicap.• None of these proposals however have been made law. However the way judges can deal with defendants has improve, so they can make supervision orders or treatment orders.