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Smith, Hogan and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law

Smith, Hogan and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law (5th edn)

John Child and David Ormerod
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date: 17 July 2024

p. 55413. Denials of an offencelocked

p. 55413. Denials of an offencelocked

  • David OrmerodDavid OrmerodProfessor of Criminal Justice, University College London Deputy High Court Judge Barrister, Bencher of Middle Temple
  •  and John ChildJohn ChildProfessor of 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


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 focuses 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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