Diminished Responsibility

In criminal law, diminished responsibility (or diminished capacity) is a potential defense by excuse by which defendants argue that although they broke the law, they should not be held fully criminally liable for doing so, as their mental functions were "diminished" or impaired. The defense's acceptance in American jurisdictions varies considerably. The majority of states have adopted it by statute or case decision, and a minority even recognise broader defenses such as 'irresistible impulse'. Some American states restrict the defense to the charge of murder only where a successful defense will result in a manslaughter conviction instead of murder. Until recently, the Republic of Ireland did not accept the partial defense. The Irish Supreme Court had rejected the existence of the defense in The People (DPP) v Joseph O' Mahony ILRM 244. The case was recently abrogated, however, by enactment of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006, effective June 1, 2006. The act, in pertinent part, specifically adopted the partial defense for the charge of murder where a successful defense will result in a manslaughter conviction instead of murder.

Diminished capacity is a partial defense to charges that require that the defendant act with a particular state of mind. For example, first degree murder requires that the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with premeditation, deliberation and the specific intent to kill - all three are necessary elements of the state's case. If evidence exists, sufficient to create a reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant because of mental illness or "defect" possessed the capacity to premeditate, deliberate or form the specific intent to kill then the state cannot convict the defendant of first degree murder. This does not mean that the defendant is entitled to an acquittal. The defendant still might be convicted of second degree murder which only requires that the defendant act with general malice. The defense is to be contrasted with insanity which is a complete but affirmative defense. In most jurisdictions a defendant would be acquitted on the grounds of insanity if the defendant established to the satisfaction of the jury that he suffered from such a mental disease or defect that he was unable to appreciate the consequences of his actions or did not know what he was doing was wrong. As noted a successful insanity defense will result in acquittal although a number of jurisdictions have adopted the guilty but insane verdict. The defense of insanity and diminished capacity although clearly distinct are not inconsistent defenses and both may be at issue in the same case. The critical distinctions are that diminished capacity is a partial, negating defense (negates an element of the state's case) with the burden on the state to show that the defendant acted with the requisite state of mind while insanity is a complete but affirmative defense - the defendant bearing the burden of proving that he was legally insane.

Read more about Diminished Responsibility:  Discussion, English Law, Scottish Law, Australia and India

Other articles related to "diminished responsibility, diminished, responsibility":

Insanity Defense - Mitigating Factors and Diminished Capacity
... Diminished responsibility or diminished capacity can be employed as a mitigating factor or partial defense to crimes and, in the United States, is applicable to more circumstances ... The Homicide Act 1957 is the statutory basis for the defense of diminished responsibility in England Wales, whereas in Scotland it is a product of case law ... The number of findings of diminished responsibility has been matched by a fall in unfitness to plead and insanity findings (Walker, 1968) ...
Diminished Responsibility In English Law
... In English law, diminished responsibility is one of the partial defences that reduce the offence from murder to manslaughter if successful (termed "voluntary" manslaughter for these ... The M'Naghten Rules lack a volitional limb of "irresistible impulse" diminished responsibility is the volitional mental condition defence in English ...
Diminished Responsibility - Australia and India
... At present, Diminished Responsibility exists as a statutory partial defence in most Australian jurisdictions ...
Manslaughter In English Law - Voluntary Manslaughter - Diminished Responsibility - Substantial Impairment of Mental Responsibility
... Whether the abnormality substantially impaired the defendant’s mental responsibility for the killing is a question of degree for the jury ... a clear abnormality of mind leading to diminished responsibility, based on their sympathy for the defendant as happened in the case of the Yorkshire Ripper ...
Diminished Responsibility In English Law - The Statutory Provision - The Relationship To Drunkenness and Drug Taking
... time of committing a murder is also irrelevant to support a plea of diminished responsibility because it is an "external" not an "inherent cause" within s2 ... The direction to a jury facing both diminished responsibility and drunkenness should be Would the defendant have killed as he did if he had not been drunk? and if the answer to that is yes ... disease (namely alcoholism), and that it substantially impaired her responsibility for her actions, then the defence of diminished responsibility would be made out ...

Famous quotes containing the word diminished:

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