• 0800 999 2472
  • Call Us 24 Hours a Day

Types Of General Evidence

Types Of General Criminal Defences In UK Law

When accused of a crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving intent. General defences, tailored to specific circumstances, can challenge the prosecution's assertion of intent. They are crucial considerations in every case.

1. Automatism

Automatism can be invoked when a person commits a crime without full control over their actions or when unconscious. Successful invocation requires proving total loss of voluntary control. However, if automatism results from a disease, alcohol/drug use, or self induced causes, the defence is limited. A jury assesses the defence's validity, leading to acquittal if not disproven beyond reasonable doubt.

2. Intoxication

Intoxication defences apply when crimes occur due to impaired mental capacity from involuntary intoxication, such as drink spiking. Involuntary intoxication can result in acquittal. However, voluntary intoxication's defence is limited, primarily reducing charges from murder to manslaughter. Intoxication can negate intent, but proving lack of control despite awareness of actions is challenging.

3. Mistake

Mistake defences refute intentional criminal acts, requiring proof of genuinely mistaken belief beyond reasonable doubt.

4. Insanity

Insanity defences argue lack of criminal intent due to mental illness, absolving guilt. Successful claims demonstrate the defendant's inability, due to mental illness, to comprehend the criminal act's nature or unlawfulness. Insanity is a complete defence leading to acquittal, though confinement may occur under mental health provisions.

5. Duress And Necessity

Duress defences assert coercion by threats to commit a crime, requiring evidence from defendants and disproval by prosecution. Necessity defences justify crimes to prevent greater harm or crime commission. Courts evaluate reasonableness and proportionality of actions to determine defence validity.

6. Self-Defence

Self defence applies when force is used to protect oneself, others, or property against threats. Defences hinge on reasonable belief in necessity and proportionality of force used. Retreat isn't obligatory, but its consideration depends on threat severity and escape availability. Excessive force risks conviction, emphasising reasonable response to danger.

7. Superior Orders

Bound individuals must refuse illegal orders from superiors. Compliance renders both perpetrator and superior culpable, especially in military contexts.

In conclusion, general criminal defences in UK law offer essential safeguards against wrongful convictions by challenging prosecution assertions of intent. Understanding and effectively utilising these defences are critical aspects of legal representation in criminal proceedings.

BKP Solicitors