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(p. 339) 13. Defences I: incapacity and negating the elements of the offence 

(p. 339) 13. Defences I: incapacity and negating the elements of the offence
(p. 339) 13. Defences I: incapacity and negating the elements of the offence

Nicola Monaghan

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date: 17 February 2020

Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. Questions, diagrams, and exercises help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress. A general defence is one which a defendant may plead in relation to any criminal offence. This chapter discusses the following general defences: infancy, insanity, automatism, intoxication (involuntary and voluntary), and mistake. Children under the age of 10 are conclusively presumed to be doli incapax (incapable of committing a criminal offence). Insanity (insane automatism) is concerned with the mental condition of the defendant at the time that the offence was committed. Automatism is available where the defendant suffers a total loss of control over his actions or he is unaware of what he is doing. Involuntary intoxication may be a defence to any offence provided that the defendant does not have the mens rea for the offence in question. Voluntary intoxication is no defence to a basic intent offence. A mistake as to civil law may provide a defence by negating the mens rea of the offence charged.

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