Criminal Law: Infancy

Infancy

Infancy as a Defence

Children under the age of ten cannot be convicted of a criminal offence. This also means that any adult cannot be an accessory to a crime committed by a child: Walters v Lunt [1951] 2 All ER 645.

Doli Incapax

Historically, children over the age of ten were rebuttably presumed incapable of criminal responsibility unless the prosecution proved otherwise. This was abolished by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, s 34. Some argued that it was still possible to avoid liability by proving that the child-defendant was incapable of criminal responsibility. However, this possibility was dismissed in R v JTB [2009] UKHL 20.


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Criminal Defences Quiz

Test yourself on the principles governing when a defendant has a defence to a criminal charge.

1 / 31

Insanity is not a defence to an offence of negligence or strict liability. True or false?

 

2 / 31

Micah is charged with stealing drugs from a pharmacist. They rely on the defence of duress, arguing that they were under the threat of serious injury or death as they were withdrawing heavily from medication at the time. Is the defence likely to succeed?

 

3 / 31

People are under a duty to retreat rather than use force in self-defence is they are able. True or false?

 

4 / 31

Celestine owes a loan shark, Mia, a lot of money. On Sunday night, Mia tells her that if Celestine does not pay her back by Monday morning she will kill her daughter. Celestine tries to get help from the police, but they tell her they do not believe her. Celestine then robs a local corner store to get the money to pay back Mia, but is caught soon after and arrested. Can Mia rely on the defence of duress?

 

5 / 31

Omar takes prescription medicine for depression. One day, he has a rare reaction to the medicine which causes him to involuntarily commit a criminal offence. The prosecution argue that he cannot rely on the defence of automatism, because he voluntarily took the medicine which caused the automatism. Will this argument succeed?

 

6 / 31

Can an adult be convicted of being an accessory to a crime committed by a child under the age of criminal responsibility?

 

7 / 31

When determining whether a sober and reasonable person would have succumbed to a duress, what characteristics of the defendant is the hypothetical person given?

8 / 31

Micah mistakenly believes that Joseph is threatening to kill her unless she robs a bank. Can she rely on her mistaken belief to establish the defence of duress?

9 / 31

Is the defence of necessity available to an offence of strict liability?

 

10 / 31

Can the defence of self-defence be relied on if the defendant provoked the victim to attack?

11 / 31

Atticus gets extremely drunk at a party, and commits an offence as a result. He claims the alcohol made him act involuntarily, and advances the defence of automatism. Will his defence succeed?

 

12 / 31

Ellen is 17 years old but suffers from a developmental disorder which gives her the emotional maturity of a 7 year-old. Can she escape liability on the grounds that she lacks criminal responsibility?

 

13 / 31

Is duress a defence to murder?

14 / 31

What are the two elements of the defence of persons defence?

15 / 31

Can the defence of self-defence be relied on where the force is used pre-emptively?

16 / 31

What three elements must the defendant show to rely on the defence of automatism?

17 / 31

Celestine owes her drug dealer, Mia, a lot of money. On Sunday night, Mia tells her that if Celestine does not pay her back by Monday morning she will kill her daughter. Celestine tells her she does not have the money, so Mia tells her to mug Richard as he carries a lot of money on him at all times. Celestine tries to get help from the police, but they tell her they do not believe her. Celestine robs Richard, but is caught soon after and arrested. Can Mia rely on the defence of duress?

 

18 / 31

What are the three elements of the defence of duress?

19 / 31

Lucy, Theo and Marius were trapped in a sinking ship. To buy time pending the arrival of a rescue vessel, Lucy threw Theo overboard. Theo drowned. Lucy has been charged with murdering Theo. She proves that if she did not kill Theo, the ship would have sunk and she and Marius would have died. Can she rely on the defence of necessity?

 

20 / 31

For the purposes of the defence of insanity, a disease of the mind may be caused by any internal or external trigger. True or false?

 

21 / 31

What is the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales?

22 / 31

Celestine is driving when she feels the onset of a hypoglycemic episode. She is not able to pull over in time before the episode starts. She is barely in control of her body, but is able to move the steering wheel a little and as a result is able to avoid hitting pedestrians. She eventually collides with a tree. Can Celestine rely on the defence of automatism in relation to any criminal offence she is charged with?

23 / 31

Moira, a teenager, joins a local gang to obtain protection against bullies at school. She knows that the gang have engaged in violent robberies in the past, but the gang leader promises her that they will not involve her in these as she is too young. The gang later threatens to cripple her mother if she does not hold onto a package of drugs for them. Can Moira rely on the defence of duress when charged with drug possession?

 

24 / 31

What are the two elements of the defence of insanity?

25 / 31

Josephine commits a crime involuntarily because of a hyperglycemic episode. Which defence would you advise her to rely on?

26 / 31

For the purposes of the defence of insanity, a disease of the mind includes mental illnesses and not physical illnesses. True or false?

 

27 / 31

When establishing self-defence or defence of others, can the defendant rely on any mistaken beliefs as to the circumstances that are the result of his being voluntarily intoxicated?

 

28 / 31

Josephine commits a crime involuntarily because of a hypoglycemic episode. Which defence would you advise her to rely on?

29 / 31

What three elements must be shown to establish the defence of necessity?

30 / 31

Leo is trying to escape a burning building. The only way out is up a ladder, but that ladder is being blocked by Gareth. Gareth is frozen in fear and cannot move out of the way to let Leo pass, nor can he move up the ladder. Because they will both die if Leo does nothing, Leo pulls Gareth off the ladder, causing him to fall to his death. He is later charged with Gareth's murder. Is the defence of necessity available to him?

 

31 / 31

When establishing the defence of duress, what three elements must exist before the impact of the threat on the defendant is considered sufficient?

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