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Alleged Criminal Behaviour or Psychomotor Attacks

An epileptic is brought to trial for assault. The lawyer argues that her client is not a criminal and that the assaults in questions were psychomotor attacks. She points out that her client takes her medication faithfully, but that it does not help. The prosecution lawyer argues that the defendant has a long history of violent assault and must be locked up. What do you think the judge should do?

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Dear Student,

Epilepsy has been suggested to be a wide range of criminal offenses. However, there is lack of evidence supporting a causal relationship. Attention should be focused on not only the manifestations of the disease itself on both 'how' the individual gets labeled with the disease in the first place and the kinds of social experiences such labeling may bring about.

Epilepsy is marked by automatism to a varying degree. Automatism means that the defendant was not aware of his actions when making the particular movements that constituted the illegal act. Criminal law knows no liability for an unconscious, involuntary act. An act by a person in a state of automatism is involuntary and performed under impaired judgment. Western jurisdictions recognize that a person committing a crime in such a state or a person who does not appreciate the criminal nature of an act because of an epileptic seizure does ...

Solution Summary

This solution reflects light on different aspects that a judge needs to consider while deciding if the assault committed by an epileptic represents criminal behavior or a psychomotor attack.