Legal Defenses
•    Insanity
•    Automatism
•    Intoxication
•    Duress
•    Self-Defense
•    Alibi
•    Necessity
•    Mistake of Fact
•    Provocation
•    Officially induced error
•    Entrapment
•    Double Jeopardy

•    Accused cannot perform the Mens Rea of the offence or is not fit to stand trial.

To Prove Insanity you must:
•    Prove an illness/a disease of the mind
•    Prove the illness made them unable to understand the nature of their actions
•    The Accused proves insanity, not the Crown
•    Person not guilty because of insanity = mental institution (then released when not insane or indefinite confinement)

•    Unconscious and involuntary behaviour (i.e. sleepwalking, amnesia)
•    No Mens Rea

•    When someone is influenced by alcohol or drugs
•    Voluntary intoxication is not a defence
•    Allowed in General Intent cases; where the accused intended the to commit a criminal offence but not all the harm that resulted – assault and manslaughter
•    Not accepted for Specific Intent; where the accused needs to have intended the crime – murder, theft, robbery.

Duress or Compulsion
•    Someone is forced to commit an offence
•    The person under duress (illegal coercion usually through being threatened or the use of violence) must be present when the offence is committed
•    They must believe that the threat will be carried out

Self Defense and Defense of Property
•    To protect yourself, anyone under your protection, moveable property, your dwelling, and real property
•    May only use reasonable force to either prevent the assault or its repetition

•    Accused claims not to be present at the time of the offence
•    Evidence or proof must be presented demonstrating that the accused was somewhere else

•    One is justified in breaking the law if they avoid a greater harm or achieve a greater good
•    Examples:  Self-defense and duress

Mistake of Fact
•    When there is an honest mistake regarding circumstances (i.e. not knowing that it is marijuana); no Mens Rea
•    Mistake of law is not a defense in some cases (i.e. not knowing possession of marijuana is illegal)

Mistake of Law/Officially Induced Error
•    Following the instructions of an official which violates the law

•    Something causes another person to lose his/her self control (i.e. an act or an insult)
•    Can reduce the charge but does not negate the offence.  (e.g. murder to manslaughter)


•    Accepted if the accused can demonstrate that they were “set-up” or trapped into doing something they otherwise would not have done.

Double Jeopardy
•    In order to promote justice and fairness society will not charge a person with the same crime twice.
•    Cases can be appealed but once the appeal process has been exhausted then the case is finished.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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