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Changes in Legal Defence - Essay Example

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Changes in Legal Defence In order to be able to navigate and sustain in a diverse and changing world, our society must adapt to many advances quickly and efficiently. This is particularly true in the case of the law that maintains order. As a deterrent and protector of citizens the legal system has always developed for the better, crucial in minimizing constantly emerging threats and dangers to life and property…
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Download file to see previous pages This is the bedrock of the Canadian legal system and the concept of defense is crucial in the determination of culpability. In the worst case scenario they must be given the opportunity to justify their actions through defenses. Recent events have shown unique and new cases that demonstrate the evolving nature of the legal system. These reflected in the way the law is ever changing in order to maintain a valid standpoint. An important aspect to this characteristic is how new legal defenses become legitimate and necessary addition to the legal system. There are several land mark cases in which seemingly absurd ideas such as automatism, battery and duress become legitimate defenses and excuses from criminal guilt and culpability.  Automatism Automatism attracted attention recently with several high profile criminal cases that led to acquittal. The decisions for these cases constitute entirely new elements to Canadian jurisprudence. For example, there was the case of Kenneth Parks who killed his mother in-law and attempted to do the same to her husband. This happened in 1987 and was a controversial event that riveted the whole country until a verdict was reached in 1988. Ramsland (2010) provided the grisly and enlightening details: He rose from bed and got into his car. Despite, as he said later, not being awake, he drove about 14 miles to the home of his wife's parents in Scarborough. Accounts say he then removed a tire iron from the car and entered the house, where he proceeded to beat his mother-in-law to death and choke his father-in-law into unconsciousness. He also used a knife from his in-laws' kitchen to stab them. (Ramsland, 2011) The defense for Park was automatism. His lawyer argued that this defense is supported by several important evidences. First, the perpetrator had a history of sleepwalking. Secondly, he had a good relationship with his wife’s parents and, hence, had no motive for murder. Park’s defense team assembled an army of experts – psychiatrists, psychologist, neurologist, and a sleep disorder specialist - explaining what automatism is. (Ramsland) The “disorder was new to the jury and, certainly, to the legal system. There is no explicit reference to this in the Canadian jurisprudence that is why the defense settled on homicidal somnambulism. The collective arguments presented by the experts, who demonstrated how sleepwalking is a neurotic disorder and could result in an individual having less control of his or her actions, finally convinced the court that Parks was innocent. It was declared that his acts were unmediated and unconsciously committed, hence, free from criminal liability. The cases of murder and attempted murder lodged against him were promptly dismissed. As a defense, automatism is considered to be a category separate from insanity plea. A case of a woman charged with murdering her husband had the jury reject the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity but acquitted her of murder on the basis of automatism because she was proven to be subject to narcolepsy, a rare sleeping disorder. (McCord, McCord & Bailyer, 2011, p. 254) Another case, however, show a different facet to this type of defense. This was the case of William Wade who was charged with murder when he repeatedly stabbed his wife, banging her head on the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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