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Ashworth's Principles of Criminal Law

Ashworth's Principles of Criminal Law (10th edn)

Jeremy Horder
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date: 05 December 2023

p. 2397. Excusatory Defenceslocked

p. 2397. Excusatory Defenceslocked

  • Jeremy HorderJeremy HorderProfessor of Criminal Law, London School of Economics and Political Science


This chapter discusses ‘excusatory’ defences. These are defences that are concerned with absence of fault or culpability in a broader sense than is understood by a ‘fault element’ when such an element is included in the definition of an offence. Even when an accused person (say) intended to harm another person, and thus possessed the fault element in the definition of the crime, he or she may still be all but blameless if, for example, what was done was done only because he or she would be killed if the action was not undertaken. In that regard, the chapter covers duress and coercion, reasonable mistake, and ‘putative’ defences. The ‘defence’ of intoxication is also tackled here, even though it is not really an excuse in the sense just explained.

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