Mental Condition Defences in the Criminal Law

Mental Condition Defences in the Criminal Law

Mental Condition Defences in the Criminal Law

Mental Condition Defences in the Criminal Law

Synopsis

Mental condition defences have been used in several high-profile and controversial criminal trials in recent years. indeed, mental abnormality is increasingly an important yet complex source of defence within the criminal trial process. The author offers a detailed critical analysis of those defences within the Criminal Law where the accused relies on some form of mental abnormality as a source of defence. Topics covered include: the defences of automatism, insanity, diminished responsibility, and infanticide; self-induced incapacity; and the doctrine of fault. It also includes a chapter on unfitness to plead, which although not a defence has been included because of its important relationship to mental disorder within the criminal process. Drawing upon a wide variety of legal, psychiatric, and philosophical sources, this is a timely contribution to a controversial and complex topic.

Excerpt

Defences based on the mental condition of the accused are widely accepted as grounds of excuse for criminal liability. Insanity has long been so regarded, and has been the subject of various historical and theoretical enquiries. Automatism is a more recently established ground of exculpation, and the doctrine of diminished responsibility has also come to play a significant role in the law of homicide. Professor Mackay's study contains a detailed examination of the state of English law on the 'mental condition' defences, and also on the cognate doctrine of unfitness to plead. It breaks new ground by integrating into the legal analysis the fruits of extensive empirical work carried out by Professor Mackay into the practical operation of the various defences and doctrines. Taking in some comparisons the other jurisdictions, the result is a text which raises a whole raft of issues about the future shape of English law on this subject, and which also demonstrates the value of empirical research in criminal law scholarship. This is a welcome contribution to the series.

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