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Criminal Law Defences Insanity And Diminshed Responsibility Notes

BCL Law Notes > Criminal Law: Offences and Defences Notes

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INSANITY

Your mental state at time of trial has absolutely no bearing on the crime as it is the mens rea at the time that matters
Everyone is presumed to be mentally well, so the burden of proof shifts.
You have to establish it on the balance of probabilities however.

FITNESS TO PLEAD•

Your mental state at time of trial has absolutely no bearing on the crime as it is the mens rea at the time that matters

The issue of fitness to plead is solely a procedural thing.

PROCEDURE
R v TurnerPsychiatric evidence is admissible only where the mental processes of the accused are claimed to be outside the normal scope and experience of ordinary people

THE TEST
M'Naghten's case 1843
Common law test came from this.
Private secretary or prime minister was shot. Huge panel of judges.
Gave two step test:

1. Didn't know nature and quality of the act

2. Didn't know the act was wrong

However, it did not encompass all insanities and situations of insanity.

Doyle v Wicklow 1974 IR
Youth set fire to an abattoir. He did it as he felt humans did not need animals for food. Even in the 1970s, this would have been recognised as a view of a lot so paul says he'd say there was some other factual elements of insanity proven.McNaghten too narrow
The test in unexhaustive and is not the sole or exclusive test in Ireland

Now clarified by the Criminal Law Insanity act 2006.

1. Must be proven that you committed the crime, beyond reasonable doubt.

2. Has to be evidence from a consultant psychiatrist

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