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The Rules Governing the Insanity Defense in the UK

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The English law requires that the Home Secretary detains the insane defendant immediately and receives a confirmation of insanity from two psychiatric doctors as pertains to the mental status of the defendant. The second clause of insanity is inculcated in unfitness of the defendant to plead following the defendant presenting with any of the six considerations stipulated under. One consideration is the inability of the defendant too understand the charges, also inability to plead guilty or not and inability to challenge jurors. Consequently, inability to instruct counsel and instruct solicitors is also considered.

Moreover, the inability of the defendant to follow proceedings and to give evidence in his defense is also reviewed. See R v Pritchard and M (John). Following an assertion that the defendant is unable to plead, a second jury is usually set up determining if the defendant is guilty of actus reus. However, if the jury is convinced that the defendant is not liable for actus reus the defendant is acquitted. This cannot therefore lead to criminal conviction and hence the defense illuminating diminished responsibility is not viable as was the ruling in the case of Pierre Harrison ANTOINE v The United Kingdom. The third aspect that inculcates insanity is insanity as the time of the offense.

The major case that is used in this third aspect is the M’ Naghten case that led to the adoption of the M’ Naghten rule which asserts that at the time of defendant committed the offense; it must be proved that the defendant had a defect of reason. Consequently, the defect in reasoning needs to have resulted from a mind disease and the defect needs to have altered the insight of the defendant and he or she was not aware that the act he committed was wrong.

The case of R v Clarke asserts that it needs not be mere absent mindedness and forgetfulness and it need to be proved that the defendant suffered from a defect of reason. Additionally, the disease of the mind needs to have caused the insanity inculcating any diseases that may alter the mental functioning of an individual.

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preview essay on The Rules Governing the Insanity Defense in the UK
  • Pages: 18 (4500 words)
  • Document Type: Coursework
  • Subject: Law
  • Level: Undergraduate
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