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Flashcards in Defenses Deck (24):


  1. 1st Requirement is that the defendant must have a mental disesase of defecet
  2. Then determine whether the defect RENDERS HIM OR HER LEGALLY INSANE
    • M'Naghten Test--Cognitive  (Majority)
    • Irresitible Impulse Test--Volitional
    • MPC Test-Cognitive or volitoinal  (25%) 


M'Naghten Test (Insanity)


Defendant must prove either that he 

  • did not KNOW that his conduct was wrong OR
  • did not UNDERSTAND the nature of his conduct 


Irresitable Impulse Test

VOLITIONAL--sometimes combined w/M'Naghten

defendant must prove that he wither: 

  • was unable to CONTROL his actions OR
  • was unable to CONFORM his conduct of the law


MPC Test 

COGNITIVE or VOLITIONAL--25% of the states 

Defendant must establish that he lacked a SUBSTANTIAL CAPACITY to either: 

  • appreciate the CRIMINALITY of his conduct OR
  • CONFORM his conduct to the requirements of law. 


Georgia (bases for insanity acquittal)

1) did not KNOW his act was wrong OR

2) operating under a DELUSIONAL COMPULSION that OVERCAME HIS WILL to resist committing the crime. 


Incompetency versus Insanity 

  • Insanity: whether the d was insance at the time of the crime--d not guilty by reason of insanity
  • INCOMPETENCY: at the time of the trial d cannot either Understand the nature of the proceedings or assist his lawyer in prepartion for his defense
    • trial is postponeded until competency is regained 


Voluntary INtoxication (common Law)

Such severe prostration of the faculties that the defendant cannot form the requiresite specific intent


not malice, general intent or strict liability 


Voluntary INtoxication (GEORGIA)

very limited defense. More than a temporary alteration of brain funcation so as to negate criminal intent 

not available for arson b/c of knowingly 


Infancy (Common Law)

Rule of SEvens

  • at time of crime, less than 7, no prosecution
  • at time of crime, less than 14, rebuttable presumption against prosecution 
  • at time of crime age is 14 or older, prosecution allowed


Infancy (Modern/GA)

Most abolish rule of sevens

In GA, to be found guilty of a crime, person must be at least 13 at time of the relevant conduct 


Mistake of Fact

  • Depends upon the mental state for the crime and whether the mistake is reasonable or unreasonable 
  • Mental state for the crime is:
    • specific intent, any mistake of fact will be a defense even if unreasonable
    • malice or general intent only a reasonable mistake of fact
    • strict liability--mistake of fact never a defense


Mistake of Law 

Generally not a defense 

EXCEPT if the statute makes KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAW an element of the crime 



Deadly v. Non-Deadly Force 

Non-deadly: shoves/punches

Deadly: Guns & knives


Use of Nondeadly Force 

May use nondeadly force if it is 

  • Reasaonably necessary 
  • to protect an immediate use
  • of unlawful force against himself


Use of deadly force

use of deadly force in self defense if facing an IMMINENT THREAT

of death OR
serious bodily injury


Initial Aggeressor Rule (deadly force)

defendant may not use deadly force if he is the initial aggressor. 

Can regain right to use deadly force in self-defense if 

  • he withrdaws from the fight and communicates that withdrawal to the other person OR
  • victim suddenly escalates a nondeadly fight into a deadly one


Retreat Rule (self-defense) 

Majority/Georgia: no retreat required

Minority: retreat required unles cannot retreat in complete safety or in his home



Reasonableness and Mistake (Self-Defense)

  • Reasonable mistake is a complete defense
  • Unreasonable defense
    • majority--no defense
    • minority/mpc--mitigates but no exoneration
      • imperfect self-defense--unreasonable belief in need to use deadly force in self dfense will mitigate to voluntary manslaughter


Use of force to prevent a crime (self-defense)

non-deadly: if reasonable necessary to prevent any serious breach of the peace

deadly: used to prevent a felony risking human life


Defense of Others (self- Defense)

to protect others just the same as he could use it to protect himself


Defense of Property (Self Defense)

Deadly force may not be used to defend property

  • Dwelling: occupant may use deadly force inside her dwelling when:
    • intruder gained entry in a violent manner AND
    • occupant reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent a personal attakc on her or someone in the dwelling
    • GA okay as long as commission of felony



Defense to criminal conduct if the defendant REASONABLY BELIVED that the conduct was necessary to PREVENT A GREATER HARM 

  • Limitations: unavailable if
    • causes death of another person to protect property OR
    • d is at fault in creating the situation that creates a choice of evils



It is a defense if the defendant was coerced to commit a crime because of a threat from another person of imminent death of serious bodily injury to himself or a close family member 

duress cannot be a defense to homicide 


Entrapment (narrow)