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Basilio, Francis Jonell B.

Basilio, Mary A.
Bautista, Ken Lloyd S.
Bondoc, Luneida S.
Calma, Tedd Allen G.
Carpio, Kris Jasper A.
Castro, Michael James J.

M'Naghten Rule
The M'Naghten rule (pronounced, and sometimes spelled, McNaughton) was a reaction to the
acquittal in 1843 of Daniel M'Naghten on the charge of murdering Edward Drummond, whom M'Naghten had
mistaken for British Prime Minister Robert Peel.
M'Naghten fired a pistol at the back of Peel's secretary, Edward Drummond, who died five days later.
The House of Lords asked a panel of judges, presided over by Sir Nicolas Conyngham Tindal, Chief Justice
of the Common Pleas, a series of hypothetical questions about the defense of insanity. The principles
expounded by this panel have come to be known as the M'Naghten Rules, though they have gained any
status only by usage in the common law and M'Naghten himself would have been found guilty if they had
been applied at his trial. The rules so formulated as M'Naghten's Case 1843 10 C & F 200 have been a
standard test for criminal liability in relation to mentally disordered defendants in common law jurisdictions
ever since, with some minor adjustments. When the tests set out by the Rules are satisfied, the accused may
be adjudged "not guilty by reason of insanity" or "guilty but insane" and the sentence may be a mandatory or
discretionary (but usually indeterminate) period of treatment in a secure hospital facility, or otherwise at the
discretion of the court (depending on the country and the offense charged) instead of a punitive disposal.
The insanity defense is recognized in Australia, Canada, England and Wales, Hong Kong, India, the
Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and most U.S. states with the exception of Idaho, Kansas,
Montana, Utah, and Vermont. Not all of these jurisdictions still use the M'Naghten Rules.

Historical Development
There are various justifications for the exemption of the insane from criminal responsibility. When
mental incapacity is successfully raised as a defense in a criminal trial it absolves a defendant from liability: it
applies public policies in relation to criminal responsibility by applying a rationale of compassion, accepting
that it is morally wrong to punish a person if that person is deprived permanently or temporarily of the
capacity to form a necessary mental intent that the definition of a crime requires. Punishment of the
obviously mentally ill by the state may undermine public confidence in the penal system. A utilitarian and
humanitarian approach suggests that the interests of society are better served by treatment of the illness
rather than punishment of the individual.
Historically, insanity was seen as grounds for leniency. In pre-Norman times in England there was no
distinct criminal code a murderer could pay compensation to the victim's family under the principle of "buy
off the spear or bear it". The insane person's family were expected to pay any compensation and look after.
In Norman times insanity was not seen as a defense in itself but a special circumstance in which the jury
would deliver a guilty verdict and refer the defendant to the King for a pardon
...eo quod sensu carent et ratione, non magis quam brutum animal iniuriam facere possunt
nec feloniam, cum non multum distent a brutis, secundum quod videri poterit in minore, qui si
alium interficeret in minori tate, iudicium non sustineret.

...since they are without sense and reason and can no more commit a tort or a felony than a brute
animal, since they are not far removed from brutes, as is evident in the case of a minor, for if he
should kill another while under age he would not suffer judgment.
In R v Arnold 1724 16 How St. Tr. 765, the test for insanity was expressed in the following terms
"whether the accused is totally deprived of his understanding and memory and knew what he
was doing "no more than a wild beast or a brute, or an infant".

The next major advance occurred in Hadfield's Trial 1800 27 How St. Tr. 765 in which the court
decided that a crime committed under some delusion would be excused only if it would have been excusable
had the delusion been true. This would deal with the situation, for example, when the accused imagines he is
cutting through a loaf of bread, whereas in fact he is cutting through a person's neck.
Each jurisdiction may have its own standards of the insanity defense. More than one standard can be
applied to any case based on multiple jurisdictions.

The M'Naghten Rules

The House of Lords delivered the following exposition of the Rules:
"the jurors ought to be told in all cases that every man is to be presumed to be sane, and to possess
a sufficient degree of reason to be responsible for his crimes, until the contrary be proved to their
satisfaction; and that to establish a defense on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that,
at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was laboring under such a defect of
reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if
he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong."
The central issue of this definition may be stated as "did the defendant know what he was doing, or, if
so, that it was wrong?", and the issues raised have been analyzed in subsequent appellate decisions:

Presumption of Sanity and Burden of Proof

Sanity is a rebuttable presumption and the burden of proof is on the party denying it; the standard of proof
is on a balance of probabilities, that is to say that mental incapacity is more likely than not. If this burden is
successfully discharged, the party relying upon it is entitled to succeed. In Lord Denning's judgement in
Bratty v Attorney-General for Northern Ireland 1963 AC 386, whenever the defendant makes an issue of his
state of mind, the prosecution can adduce evidence of insanity. However, this will normally only arise to
negate the defense case when automatism or diminished responsibility is in issue. In practical terms, the
defense will be more likely to raise the issue of mental incapacity to negate or minimize criminal liability. In R
v Clarke 1972 1 All E R 219 a defendant charged with a shoplifting claimed she had no mens rea because
she had absent-mindedly walked out of the shop without paying because she suffered from depression.
When the prosecution attempted to adduce evidence that this constituted insanity within the Rules, she
changed her plea to guilty, but on appeal the Court ruled that she had been merely denying mens rea rather
than raising a defense under the Rules and her conviction was quashed. The general rule was stated that
the Rules apply only to cases in which the defect of reason is substantial.

Disease of the Mind

Whether a particular condition amounts to a disease of the mind within the Rules is not a medical but a
legal question to be decided in accordance with the ordinary rules of interpretation. It seems that any disease
which produces a malfunctioning of the mind is a disease of the mind and need not be a disease of the brain
itself. The term has been held to cover numerous conditions:
R v Kemp 1957 1 QB 399: arteriosclerosis or a hardening of the arteries caused loss of control during
which the defendant attacked his wife with a hammer. This was an internal condition and a disease of the
R v Sullivan 1984 AC 156 during an epileptic episode, the defendant caused grievous bodily harm:
epilepsy was an internal condition and a disease of the mind, and the fact that the state was transitory
was irrelevant.
R v Quick & Paddison 1973 3 AER 397 a diabetic committed an assault while in a state of hypoglycemia
caused by the insulin he had taken, the alcohol he had consumed and not eating properly. It was ruled
that the judge should have left the defense of automatism open to him, so his conviction was quashed
(he had pleaded guilty rather than not guilty by reason of insanity). This was where the internal/external
divide doctrine was first expressed, probably due to judicial reluctance to hospitalize someone for a
condition that could be cured by a sugar lump. It is doubtful that a jury would have accepted a defense of
automatism, but nonetheless the issue should have been left to them.
R v Hennessy 1989) 1 WLR 287 a diabetic stole a car and drove it while suffering from a mild attack of
hyperglycemia caused by stress and a failure to take his insulin. Lane LCJ said at 294
"In our judgment, stress, anxiety and depression can no doubt be the result of the operation of
external factors, but they are not, it seems to us, in themselves separately or together external
factors of the kind capable in law of causing or contributing to a state of automatism. They constitute
a state of mind which is prone to recur. They lack the feature of novelty or accident, which is the
basis of the distinction drawn by Lord Diplock in R v Sullivan 1984 AC 156, 172. It is contrary to the
observations of Devlin J., to which we have just referred in Hill v Baxter 1958) 1 QB 277, 285. It does
not, in our judgment, come within the scope of the exception of some external physical factor such as
a blow on the head or the administration of an anesthetic."
In Bratty, Lord Denning observed obiter that a crime committed while sleepwalking would appear to him
to be one committed as an automaton. However, the ruling in R v Sullivan that diseases of the mind need
have no permanence led many academics to suggest that sleepwalkers might well be found to be
suffering from a disease of the mind with internal causes unless there was clear evidence of an external
causal factor.
In R v Burgess 1991 2 WLR 1206 the Court of Appeal ruled that the defendant, who wounded a woman
by hitting her with a video recorder while sleepwalking, was insane under the M'Naghten Rules. Lord
Lane said, "We accept that sleep is a normal condition, but the evidence in the instant case indicates that
sleepwalking, and particularly violence in sleep, is not normal."
The courts have clearly drawn a distinction between internal and external factors affecting a defendant's
mental condition. This is partly based on risk of recurrence, but the distinction between insanity and
automatism is difficult because the distinction between internal and external divide is difficult. Many diseases
consist of a predisposition, considered an internal cause, combined with a precipitant, which would be
considered an external cause. Actions committed while sleepwalking would normally be considered as "noninsane automatism", but often alcohol and stress trigger bouts of sleepwalking and make them more likely to
be violent. The diabetic who takes insulin but does not eat properly is that an internal or external cause?

Nature and Quality of the Act

This phrase refers to the physical nature and quality of the act, rather than the moral quality. It covers the
situation where the defendant does not know what he is physically doing. Two common examples used are:
The defendant cuts a woman's throat under the delusion that he is cutting a loaf of bread,
The defendant chops off a sleeping man's head because he has the deluded idea that it would be great
fun to see the man looking for it when he wakes up.
The judges were specifically asked if a person could be excused if he committed an offense in
consequence of an insane delusion. They replied that if he labors under such partial delusion only, and is not
in other respects insane, "he must be considered in the same situation as to responsibility as if the facts with
respect to which the delusion exists were real". This rule requires the court to take the facts as the accused
believed them to be and follows Hadfield's Trial, above. If the delusions do not prevent the defendant from
having mens rea there will be no defense. In R v Bell 1984 Crim. LR 685 the defendant smashed a van
through the entrance gates of a holiday camp because, "It was like a secret society in there, I wanted to do
my bit against it" as instructed by God. It was held that, as the defendant had been aware of his actions, he
could neither have been in a state of automatism nor insane, and the fact that he believed that God had told
him to do this merely provided an explanation of his motive and did not prevent him from knowing that what
he was doing was wrong in the legal sense.

Knowledge That the Act was Wrong

The interpretation of this clause is a subject of controversy among legal authorities, and different
standards may apply in different jurisdictions.
"Wrong" was interpreted to mean legally wrong, rather than morally wrong, in the case of Windle 1952 2QB
826; 1952 2 All ER 1 246, where the defendant killed his wife with an overdose of aspirin; he telephoned the
police and said, "I suppose they will hang me for this." It was held that this was sufficient to show that
although the defendant was suffering from a mental illness, he was aware that his act was wrong, and the
defense was not allowed. Under this interpretation, there may be cases where the mentally ill know that their
conduct is legally prohibited, but it is arguable that their mental condition prevents them making the
connection between an act being legally prohibited and the societal requirement to conform their conduct to
the requirements of the criminal law.
As an example of a contrasting interpretation in which defendant lacking knowledge that the act was
morally wrong meets the M'Naghten standards, there are the instructions the judge is required to provide to
the jury in cases in New York State when the defendant has raised an insanity plea as a defense:
"... with respect to the term "wrong", a person lacks substantial capacity to know or appreciate that
conduct is wrong if that person, as a result of mental disease or defect, lacked substantial capacity to
know or appreciate either that the conduct was against the law or that it was against commonly held
moral principles, or both."

There is other support in the authorities for this interpretation of the standards enunciated in the
findings presented to the House of Lords regarding M'Naghten's case:
"If it be accepted, as can hardly be denied, that the answers of the judges to the questions asked by
the House of Lords in 1843 are to be read in the light of the then existing case-law and not as novel
pronouncements of a legislative character, then the [Australian] High Court's analysis in Stapleton's
Case is compelling. Their exhaustive examination of the extensive case-law concerning the defense
of insanity prior to and at the time of the trial of M'Naughten establishes convincingly that it was

morality and not legality which lay as a concept behind the judges' use of "wrong" in the M'Naghten

Crimes Without Specific Intent

In DPP v Harper (1997) it was held that insanity is not generally a defense to strict liability offenses. In this
instance, the accused was driving with excess alcohol. By definition, the accused is sufficiently aware of the
nature of the activity to commit the actus reus of driving and presumably knows that driving while drunk is
legally wrong. Any other feature of the accused's knowledge is irrelevant.

The Function of the Jury

Section 1 of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991 provides that a jury shall
not return a special verdict that "the accused is not guilty by reason of insanity" except on the written or oral
evidence of two or more registered medical practitioners of whom at least one has special experience in the
field of mental disorder. This may require the jury to decide between conflicting medical evidence which they
are not necessarily equipped to do, but the law goes further and allows them to disagree with the experts if
there are facts or surrounding circumstances which, in the opinion of the court, justify the jury in coming to
that conclusion.

Under section 3 of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991:
1. Where the sentence for the offense to which the finding relates is fixed by law (e.g. murder), the court
must make a hospital order restricting discharge without limitation of time. Otherwise, if there is adequate
medical evidence and the defendant has been convicted of an imprisonable offense, a hospital order
requires that the defendant be admitted to and detained in a hospital for treatment for a mental disorder.
2. In any other case the court may make:
a hospital order and an order restricting discharge either for a limited or unlimited period of time;
or in appropriate circumstances, a guardianship order; a supervision and treatment order; or an order
for absolute discharge.

There have been four major criticisms of the law as it currently stands:

A. Medical Irrelevance
The legal definition of insanity has not advanced significantly since 1843; in 1953 evidence was given to
the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment that doctors even then regarded the legal definition to be
obsolete and misleading.
This distinction has led to absurdities such as:
(a) even though a legal definition suffices, mandatory hospitalization can be ordered in cases of
murder; if the defendant is not medically insane, there is little point in requiring medical treatment.

(b) diabetes has been held to facilitate a defense of insanity when it causes hyperglycemia, but not
when it causes hypoglycemia.
(c) Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, imported into English law by the Human
Rights Act 1998, provides that a person of unsound mind may be detained only where proper account
of objective medical expertise has been taken. As yet, no cases have occurred in which this point has
been argued.
B. Ineffectiveness
The rules currently do not distinguish between defendants who represent a public danger and those who
do not. Illnesses such as diabetes and epilepsy can be controlled by medication such that sufferers are less
likely to have temporary aberrations of mental capacity, but the law does not recognize this.
C. Sentencing for Murder
A finding of insanity may well result in indefinite confinement in a hospital, whereas a conviction for
murder may well result in a determinate sentence of between ten and 15 years; faced with this choice, it may
be that defendants would prefer the certainty of the latter option. The defense of diminished responsibility in
section 2(1) of the Homicide Act would reduce the conviction to voluntary manslaughter with more discretion
on the part of the judge in regards to sentencing.
D. Scope
A practical issue is whether the fact that an accused is laboring under a "mental disability" should be a
necessary but not sufficient condition for negating responsibility i.e. whether the test should also require an
incapacity to understand what is being done, to know that what one is doing is wrong, or to control an
impulse to do something and so demonstrate a causal link between the disability and the potentially criminal
acts and omissions. For example, the Irish insanity defense comprises the M'Naghten Rules and a control
test that asks whether the accused was debarred from refraining from committing the act because of a defect
of reason due to mental illness. The Butler Committee recommended that proof of severe mental disorder
should be sufficient to negate responsibility, in effect creating an irrebuttable presumption of irresponsibility
arising from proof of a severe mental disorder. This has been criticized as it assumes a lack of criminal
responsibility simply because there is evidence of some sort of mental dysfunction, rather than establishing a
standard of criminal responsibility. According to this view, the law should be geared to culpability not mere
psychiatric diagnosis.