Knowing and Proving Exculpatory Mental Incapacity

Arlie Loughnan

in Manifest Madness

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698592
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738883 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Monographs on Criminal Law and Justice

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Criminal Law


Show Summary Details


This chapter turns from the substantive law of insanity and automatism to the rules and practices of evidence and proof. It analyses the way in which claims to exculpatory mental incapacity are governed. The rules of evidence and procedure relating to automatism are distinguished from those relating to insanity, in a way that usefully throws each into relief. There are two main points made in this chapter. The first of these is that more than one type of knowledge informs the evidentiary practices attending exculpatory incapacity. Both expert or specialized knowledge of ‘madness’ and non-expert or lay knowledge are relevant for understanding how exculpatory incapacity claims are adjudicated in criminal law. The second main point is that the rules of evidence and proof applying to insanity and automatism reflect the different eras in which they formalized from informal practices. While the rules related to insanity crystallized in the era of the ‘reconstructive’ criminal trial, the appearance of a discrete automatism doctrine in the second half of the twentieth century coincides with a version of the adversarial criminal trial concerned with due process and the effective processing of criminal cases.

Keywords: rules of evidence and proof; exculpatory mental incapacity; evidentiary practice; insanity; automatism

Chapter.  20697 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.