Topics: Criminal law, Crime, Insanity defense Pages: 41 (3026 words) Published: June 23, 2015
Criminal Law
Year 11 Legal Studies
Term 2 – 2015

What is Criminal?

 Criminal conduct is behaviour that the law deems to be wrongful.  Criminal law covers the acts and omissions that most people in society consider harmful.
 As well as causing harm to a victim, a crime is also regarded as harming the society as a whole.
 Behaviour that breaks one of these criminal rules is an offence.

Sources of Criminal Law

 Criminal law is the responsibility of the States.
 The Commonwealth can enact criminal matters that arise under its constitutional powers, such as importing/exporting drugs and other prohibited items (under its customs power)

Structure of the Unit





 Refer to group presentation power points
 Textbook pages will cover most major offences
 Refer to Queensland Criminal Code (1899)for more detail

Part 2: Defences
• Chapter 5 of the QLD Criminal Code (1899) is entitled Criminal Responsibility
• If the accused can prove any of the defences of excuses in Chapter 5, then he or she will not be criminally responsible for the act or omission for which they are being charged
• Once the defence is raised, it is up to the prosecution to negate it beyond reasonable doubt. *negate: to make invalid
• Some defences and excuses are complete and some are partial – this will result in a reduced sentence.
• Some defences are applicable ONLY to certain types of offences. E.g. Only to murder or property offences

1. a defence is a complete defence ,
there is no criminality to the offence
2. an partial defence (excuse)– reduces
the severity of the punishment.

The following are


Bona fide claim of right (s22)
• A person is not criminally responsible for an offence where the person reasonably but mistakenly believed that they could lawfully do what they did.
• E.g. Unlawful use of motor vehicle – not your car but under the mistaken impression you had a right to use it.
What do
you think p
3 of

Independently of the Exercise of the Will
(S23 (1) (A))
i.e. I could not help it
Complete defence
Case Study
• Must be a lack of free will or an accident
page 4
e.g. - reflex action
- sleep walking
- during concussion
- sneezing
- coughing
- accident which could not have been foreseen by a reasonable person • Cooper v McKenna (1960) Qd R 406 (p4)

R v Silich (2010) Supreme Court, WA (p5)

Accident – an unforseen event
• In 2011 the word ‘accident’ was removed from S23 of the QCC and replaced with a well established common law
definition from the 1973 High Court Case of Kaporonovski
• S23 now states a person is not criminally responsible for an event that:

The person does not intend or foresee as a possible consequence; and


An ordinary person would not reasonably foresee as a possible consequence


E.g. An axe head flying off a new axe and decapitating a passer-by.

• Sudden or extreme circumstances when a reasonable person would have acted in the same way
e.g. rushing a sick child through a red light
 e.g. taking control of a car when the driver suffers a heart attack even though you may be over the alcohol limit
 p11 Dudley and Stephens (1884) 14 QBD 273


Insanity s26 and s27 • Being ‘mad’
Insanity plea - PTSD

• A person is NOT criminally responsible for
an act if, at the time of the act, the person
In such as state of mental disease or natural
mental infirmityas to deprive them of any of the
Capacity to understand what they were doing
Capacity to control their actions
Capacity to know that they ought not do the act

• The defence comes from the idea that it is morally and
legally wrong to punish someone who suffers from severe
mental impairment or illness which stops them from
controlling their actions or understanding what they...
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