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Smith, Hogan, and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law

Smith, Hogan, and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law (4th edn)

John Child and David Ormerod
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date: 04 October 2023

p. 53813. Denials of an offencelocked

p. 53813. Denials of an offencelocked

  • John ChildJohn ChildReader in Criminal Law, Birmingham Law School, Co-Director of the Birmingham Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing, Co-Director of the Criminal Law Reform Now Network
  •  and David OrmerodDavid OrmerodProfessor of Criminal Justice, University College London, Deputy High Court Judge, Barrister, Bencher of Middle Temple, Door Tenant at Red Lion Chambers


This chapter deals with the rules on denials of an offence, a denial of one or more actus reus or mens rea elements. In particular, it considers three sets of rules relating to the denial of an offence: intoxication, sane automatism, and insanity. As well as discussing how each of these rules can be used by D to avoid liability, the chapter also focusses on how circumstances of ‘prior-fault’ can be used by the prosecution to substitute for missing mens rea elements so as to construct liability. It also outlines potential options for legal reform concerning intoxication, sane automatism, and insanity, and concludes by considering how denials of offending based on intoxication, automatism, and insanity should be applied to problem facts. Relevant cases are highlighted throughout the chapter, with brief summaries of the main facts and judgments.

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