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EXCUSE DEFENSES IN CRIMINAL LAW V. Excuse Defenses Excuse defenses - assert defendant not responsible for his/her wrong actions A. Insanity Insanity in criminal law - a legal , not medical, concept Rests on basic principle of criminal law - must have both actus reus (voluntary act) and mens rea (guilty mind) - if mentally unable to form mens rea or if action not voluntary act (in legal meaning), then not criminally liable Four tests - varying degrees of application M = Naghten or A right-wrong @ test Irresistible impulse test Durham A product @ test Substantial capacity test Two major tests used - right-wrong test and substantial capacity test 1. M = Naghten or right-wrong test - elements of defense - two pronged - defendant suffered from mental disease or defect that - at time of act caused defendant NOT to know - nature and quality of act (delusional - twisting neck of chicken when actually choking person, OR - that the act was wrong Viewed as a test of lack of A cognition @ Meaning of controversy about A wrong @ (merely that prohibited vs that morally wrong) and A know @ (mere intellectual awareness vs appreciates or understands) M = Naghten case - Queen = s Bench articulated rule to House of Lords - M = Naghten had killed Prime Minister = s secretary - delusional and, therefore, not culpable 2. Irresistible impulse test addresses volition (free will) concern i.e., that because of mental disease or defect, unable to control actions/conduct to conform to what required Applied as supplement to M = Naghten test in some jurisdictions
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3. Durham product test - insanity defense applies where def. = s actions the product of , caused by, the mental disease or defect - very broad; only used in New Hampshire If view as a causation issue - harm caused by disease, not the personal act Seen as incorporating modern psychological views - i.e., largely adopts medical definition as legal definition But even New Hampshire courts where originated (then adopted in D.C. in Durham v. United States) have restricted meaning - Tends to be where complete loss of self-control Only still used in New Hampshire - as modified 4. Model Penal Code = s A substantial capacity @ test Not responsible for criminal conduct where - as result of mental disease or defect - lacks substantial capacity to either - appreciate the criminality (wrongfulness) of conduct 0R - to conform conduct to requirements of law State v. Quintet - Conn. case - applies substantial capacity test Note - insanity an affirmative defense - burden of proof on defendant by preponderance of evidence that lacked substantial capacity
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