CHAPTER 9: EXCUSES CHAPTER OUTLINE INTRODUCTION Excuses provide a defense based on the fact that although a defendant committed a criminal act that he or she is not considered responsible With excuses, defendants are not morally blameworthy and therefore are excused from criminal liability THE INSANITY DEFENSE The insanity defense is one of the most thoroughly studied and hotly debated issues in criminal law A defendant found ?not guilty by reason of insanity? in some states is subject to immediate committal to a mental institution until he or she is determined to be ?sane? and no longer poses a threat to society In most states, a separate civil commitment hearing is conducted to determine whether the defendant poses a danger and should be interned in a mental institution Why we have the insanity defense Free will Theories of Punishment Humanitarianism Tests for insanity M?Naghten Irresistible impulse Durham product test American Law Institute, Model Penal Code Standard The fundamental difference among these tests is whether the emphasis is placed on a defendant?s ability to know right from wrong or whether the stress is placed on a defendant?s ability to control his or her behavior Competence to stand trial: Due process of law requires that defendants should not be subjected to criminal trial unless they possess the ability to intelligently assist their attorney and to understand and follow the trial THE RIGHT/WRONG TEST At the time of committing the act, the party accused must have been suffering from such a defect of reason, from a disease of the mind as a result of which: The defendant did not know what he was doing or The defendant did not know he was doing wrong The most common mental disorder of defect results in legal insanity under the M?Naghten test for insanity is a psychosis, a psychological disorder that results in an inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy Legal Equation: M?Naghten Right-Wrong test = Defect of reason from a disease of the mind + At the time of the act did not know + The nature and quality of the act + That the act was wrong RENYA V. STATE This is a case which provides a good example of the characteristics of a defendant who is evaluated as legally insane under the M?Naghten THE IRRESISTIBLE IMPULSE TEST The irresistible impulse test requires the jury to find a defendant not guilty by reason of insanity in the event that the jurors find that the defendant possessed a mental disease that prevented him from curbing his or her criminal conduct Legal equation: Durham product test = Unlawful act + Product of disease or defect THE DURHAM PRODUCT TEST The Durham product test provided that an accused is ?not criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or mental defect? Legal equation: Durham product test = unlawful act + product of disease or defect THE SUBSTANTIAL CAPACITY TEST The ALI substantial capacity test significantly broadens the test for legal insanity and increases the number of defendants who may be judged legally insane Appreciate Substantial capacity Conform conduct to the requirements of the law Wrongfulness Legal equation: Legal insanity = Mental disease or defect + Substantial incapacity + to Appreciate criminality of an act or conform conduct to requirements of the law STATE V. THOMPSON This case illustrates that although a defendant may suffer from a mental disease or defect that a jury might conclude that he or she was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her acts BURDEN OF PROOF The defendant is presumed sane until some evidence is produced challenging this assumption THE FUTURE OF THE INSANITY DEFENSE Criticisms of the Insanity Defense Bias Theories of punishment Moral blameworthiness Experts Defenders point out that only a small number of defendants are evaluated as legally insane Thirteen states have adopted a verdict of ?guilty but mentally ill?; Eleven of those states retain the insanity defense MOLER V. STATE This caseraises the issue of whether jurors should follow the testimony of experts or should make their own independent judgments concerning a defendant?s legal sanity or insanity. Moler also is an example of a verdict of ?guilty but mentally ill? DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY Diminished responsibility permits the admission of psychiatric testimony to establish that a defendant suffers from a mental disturbance that diminishes the defendant?s capacity to form the required criminal intent Wells-Gorshen rule Under this approach, the defendant may introduce psychiatric evidence to negate the required intent in a prosecution for any criminal intent INTOXICATION VOLUNTARY INTOXICATION Voluntary intoxication was not recognized as a defense under the early common law in England The contemporary trend is to return to the original common law rule and to refuse to recognize a defense based on voluntary alcoholism INVOLUNTARY INTOXICATION Involuntary intoxication is a defense to any and all criminal offenses in those instances that the defendant?s state of mind satisfies the standard for the insanity defense in the state Involuntary intoxication can occur in any of four ways Duress Mistake Fraud Medication BRANCACCIO V. STATE The proliferation of drugs, medicine and newly developed therapies promises to lead to involuntary intoxication being increasingly raised as a defense in criminal prosecutions INFANCY The common law did not recognize infancy as a defense to criminal prosecution Children under seven lack a criminal capacity Children over seven and under fourteen were presumed to be without capacity to form a criminal intent. This was a rebuttable presumption, the prosecution could overcome the presumption by evidence that the juvenile knew what he or she was doing was wrong Children fourteen and older possessed the same criminal capacity as adults Today, the age that a juvenile may be criminally prosecuted as an adult rather than brought before a juvenile court is determined by state statutes BRAZILL V. STATE The controversial question of certifying juveniles for trial as adults is explored K.M. V. STATE This case discusses the factors considered by an Indiana court in determining whether to transfer a juvenile to the jurisdiction of the criminal court for trial as an adult DURESS The common law excused an individual from guilt who committed a crime to avoid the threat of imminent death or bodily harm Various explanations for the duress defense Realism Criminal intent Criminal act THE ELEMENTS OF DURESS The defendant?s acts are to be judged in accordance with a reasonable person standard There must be a threat of death or serious bodily harm which causes an individual to commit a crime Duress does not excuse the intentional taking of the life of another The threat must be immediate and imminent An individual must have exhausted all reasonable and available alternatives to violating the law. A defendant must reasonably believe that the criminal act is the only means of preventing imminent death or great bodily harm The defendant must not create or assist in creating the circumstances leading to the claim of duress Married women were exempted from the liability under the common law The individual exerting the coercion is liable as a principle in the crime despite the fact that the perpetrator may be excused on the basis of duress DURESS AND CORECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS The most controversial duress cases involve prison escapes in which inmates threatened with physical assault offer the defense of duress to excuse their escape Inmates relying on duress must establish that they did not use force or violence towards prison personnel or other innocent individuals in the escape, and that they immediately contacted authorities once having reached a position of safety THE DURESS DEFENSE The legal equation: Duress = Reasonable belief of + An imminent threat by another + Of death or sever bodily harm + Against the defendant or close friend or relative + That causes defendant to commit a criminal act + Defendant did not place him or herself in the situation + Defendant did not kill another UNITED STATES V. CONTENTO-PACHON The trial court found Contento-Pachon's offer of proof insufficient to support a duress defense because he failed to offer proof of two elements: immediacy and inescapability MISTAKE OF LAW The rule that a mistake of law does not constitute a defense is based on several considerations: Knowledge Evidence Public Policy Uniformity The Model Penal Code recognizes an ?ignorance of the law defense? where the defendant does not know the law, and the law has not been published or made reasonably available to the public MISTAKE OF FACT A mistake of fact constitutes a defense in those instances that the defendant?s mistake results in a lack of criminal intent The legal equation: Mistake of law = No excuse; Mistake of fact = Mistake an excuse where goes to criminal intent ENTRAPMENT The essence of entrapment is the government?s inducement of an otherwise innocent individual to commit a crime Why the government relies on undercover strategies: Crime detection Resources Deterrence Entrapment is also subject to criticism THE LAW OF ENTRAPMENT THE SUBJECTIVE TEST The subjective test of entrapment focuses on the defendant and asks whether the accused possessed the criminal intent or ?predisposition? to commit the crime or whether the government ?created? the offense THE OBJECTIVE TEST The objective test focuses on the conduct of the government rather than on the character of the defendant Critics complain that the objective test has not resulted in clear and definite standards to guide law enforcement DUE PROCESS THE ENTRAPMENT DEFENSE Legal equation: Subjective test = Government inducement + Defendant is not predisposed to commit the crime; Objective test = Police conduct falls below the standards to which common feelings respond STATE V. BLANCO The issue is whether the police conduct in this case "falls below standards, to which common feelings respond, for the proper use of governmental power? NEW DEFENSES SOME NEW DEFENSES Biological defenses Premenstrual syndrome Postpartum psychosis Environmental defense Brain washing Black rage Urban survivor Media intoxication Rotten social background THE CULTURAL DEFENSE The cultural defense involves arguing that a foreign-born defendant was following his or her culture and was understandably unaware of American law STATE V. KARGAR The defendant is originally from Afghanistan and argues that the Maine Supreme Court should invoke an unusual statute that authorizes courts to dismiss charges against defendants whose acts, although technically in violation of the law, result in minimal social harm KEY TERMS abuse excuse civil commitment competence to stand trial diminished capacity duress Durham product test entrapment excuse guilty but mentally ill (GBMI) ignorantia lexis non exusat infancy irresistible impulse insanity defense involuntary intoxication M?Naghten rule mistake of fact mistake of law substantial capacity test voluntary intoxication
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