Others worried about Iran's support for militants fightingU. This, however, thesis on business Those claims were found to be unsubstantiated, prosecutors said.
Scope[ edit ] Automatism is arguably the only defence that excludes responsibility by negating the existence of the actus reus which uniquely allows it to be a defence to both conventional and strict liability offences although this argument could be extended to the status defence of insanity too.
Strict automatism is a denial of actus reus and therefore most commonly used as a defence against strict liability offences. For example, in cases of homicidal sleepwalking the illegal act is typically not denied but the intent to kill is.
The defendant will typically be perplexed and confused and will not cover up the episode. Kenneth Parks, after killing his mother-in-law and severely injuring his father-in-law, drove to the police station stating that he thought he'd killed some people.
The person's movements seem purposeful - the sleepwalker interacts with his environment in a limited way. Nonetheless the sleepwalker is not conscious of his actions.
The use of the term automatism for these situations causes some confusion, as in these cases it is really the lack of intent on the part of the defendant which denies the mens rea of the offence rather than the actus reus although this distinction is problematic in many instancesbetter called unconsciousness.
Intention is a problem in crimes of strict liability. Very few people intend to crash their vehicles, so clearly something better than intent is required to define automatism. Another issue with automatism is that when the issue is raised by the defence as a realistic defence an evidentiary basisthe prosecution then has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was acting voluntarily.
This is the case for several other defences e. The justification for this is that voluntary action is part of the definition of the offence, and therefore something under the presumption of innocence the prosecution has to prove.
The evidentiary burden was laid down in Hill v Baxter where the defence of automatism failed because there was no good evidence for the alleged blackout. Exclusions[ edit ] Because automatism is such a comprehensive defence, there are various exclusions to an automatism defence.
The person must not be at fault. The classic example of this is falling asleep at the wheel of a car Kay v Butterworth. Although one is not responsible for acts done while asleep, one can be held responsible for driving in a state where one would fall asleep at the wheel.
The issue of prior fault applies to many diabetics who suffer hypoglycaemia while driving. Voluntary and often involuntary intoxication cannot cause legal automatism. In many jurisdictions, there is a distinction made between 'sane automatism' and 'insane automatism'.
Where the involuntariness is caused by a mental illness, or 'disease of the mind', as per the M'Naghten Rulesit will be regarded as 'insane automatism' and will often result in a special verdict of 'not guilty by reason of insanity'. This can have significant practical effects for the defendant, as they still may be detained after a special verdict as opposed to the straight acquittal available through sane automatism.
This is medically nonsensical, and does not always bear much relationship to continuing risk which is the main justification.
This means that insane automatisms do not require total loss of voluntary control see below. Thus they are easier to prove in some circumstances, but conversely the burden of proof is on the defendant.
In Attorney-General's Reference No 2 of this definition of legal automatism was confirmed. A lorry driver had crashed, and his defence backed up by expert evidence was that the monotony of motorway driving had caused him to go into a state of 'driving without awareness' where although he could make minor adjustments to follow the road he was not truly conscious of driving.
This followed the decisions of Watmore v Jenkins  and Broome v Perkins  where diabetic drivers who had driven 3 miles or more were held to not have the total loss of control necessary for the defence of automatism.
This definition is problematic, and the Law Commission, Butler Committee and leading legal academic RD Mackay  have all argued that this definition is too restrictive.
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