Automatism as a Criminal Defence - InBrief.co.uk.

General Defences Of Automatism And Insanity Automatism Law General Essay. This defence applies where the defendant had no conscious, voluntary control over his actions. See Hill v Baxter (1958). Automatism is sometimes referred to as non-insane automatism to distinguish it from the defence of insanity. The cause of the automotive state must be.

Examples of how to use “automatism” in a sentence from the Cambridge Dictionary Labs.

Automatism and Veristic Surrealism - UK Essays.

Automatism is a defence even against strict liability crimes like dangerous driving, where no intent is necessary. There are several limitations to the defence of automatism in English law. Prior fault generally excludes automatism. Intoxication generally excludes automatism, even when involuntary.A defence of automatism may be open to such a defendant. The legal meaning of the defence of automatism has evolved to mean that the defendant’s conduct was involuntary. In the case of Bratty ( 1 ), Lord Denning regarded an act as involuntary when it is done “by the muscles without any control of the mind” or “by a person who is not conscious of what he is doing.”.Automatism is an action that is performed without the doer’s intention or awareness. If an individual faces criminal charges based on such an action, automatism may be used as a defense for clearing or lessening the charges.


The defence of non-insane automatism, if successfully pleaded, acts as a complete defence absolving the defendant of all criminal liability.It differs from the defence of insane automatism in that there is no power to detain in a mental hospital neither may any other order be made against the defendant. The defence of non-insane automatism exists where a person commits a crime in circumstances.The cause of the automatism must be external, like; Sneezing, the effect of a drug or an attack by a swarm of bees. Case example - Hill v Baxter 1958. Exceptional stress can be an external factor which may cause automatism. It was shown in case of T 1990 where the defendant was allowed the defence due to post-traumatic stress.

Effectively, automatism has three requirements: complete loss of control, it must not be self-induced and it must have an external cause. Requirement one is similar to the notion that one way for insanity to succeed is where the defendant is not aware of the nature and quality of his act.

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Progressive judgements on automatism have changed legal interpretation over the years, though the use of this defence remains rare. Automatism itself has defied a clear medical definition. Fenwick (1990) stated that an automatism is an involuntary behaviour over which an individual has no control.

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However, automatism in the sense of a valid legal defense cannot usually hold if the unconscious, involuntary state was the result of voluntary actions. For example, a driver who falls asleep at the wheel and hits a pedestrian probably cannot successfully claim automatism, because it is presumed that he should have been aware that he was growing sleepy and pulled over to rest.

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Automatism as a criminal defence What is automatism? Generally, at common law, a voluntary act is required to establish the actus reus of a crime. The defendant should also be conscious of their acts so that mens rea can be established. If a defendant, however, can show that they committed a crime as the result of an involuntary act they may be able to plead the defence of automatism.

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Automatism may refer to:. Automatic behavior, spontaneous verbal or motor behavior; Automatism (law), a defense used in criminal law Automatism (toxicology), when an individual repeatedly takes a medication because the individual forgets previous doses Automatic writing, the process, or product, of writing material that does not come from the conscious thoughts of the writer.

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Examples of what might constitute an automatism defence include an epileptic fit and a hypoglycaemic attack. Currently there is no scheme in the UK to compensate victims of genuine automatism and so a person injured through absolutely no fault of their own has no recourse whatsoever to compensation for what are often very serious injuries.

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Psychology Definition of AUTOMATISM DEFENSE: a legal defense that represents the claim that criminal intent (see mens rea) was absent as the result of a defendant's dissociated or unconscious state at.

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Automatism: a state of mind in which a person, though capable of action, is not conscious of what the person is doing at the time the crime was alleged to have been committed. (ex. Sleepwalking) Involuntary intoxication: a state of mind in which a person is conscious of his action, but unaware that his faculties have become appreciably impaired by a foreign substance.

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Automatism when successfully applied is a complete defence when proven, leaving claimants with little options to deal with the aftereffects of an accident through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, it remains fact that each matter dealing with allegations of automatism are case specific and relies solely on the ruling of a presiding Judge.

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The automatism defence has been described as a quagmire of law and as presenting an intractable problem. Why is this so? This paper will analyse and explore the current legal position on automatism.

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