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Is the Insanity Defence Being Abused?

            The insanity defence was bought into action in 1843 to protect those suffering from a mental illness/disease at the time of committing a crime, however society's growing indignant attitude towards these offenders is both destructive and detrimental to the reputation of the Queensland Legal System. The insanity defence is misconstrued by the general public, and viewed as a weak argument-an easy way to get "off" criminal charges, this is not so. Section 27 of the Queensland Criminal Code 1899 (see appendix) clearly states that an offender is not criminally responsible for his/her acts if at the time they were lacking capacity to understand due to mental illness. Although how is the contrary proven? Without specific guidelines stating what is/isn't a mental illness, without psychological and legal forces joining together to create a comprehensive addition to the current code, the insanity defence remains a grey area for all involved. Therefore the lack of uniformity leaves it open for exploitation and misuse, this view often represented by the media and thus by the general public, who in turn sit on the jury and decide the fate of mentally ill offenders. The Queensland Legal System needs to standardise S26/27 of the criminal code act regarding what is and isn't a mental illness and should consequently be covered by the code, before any more damage is done to the reputation of this very important and necessary contention. .
             Is the insanity defence being abused in the Queensland Legal System?.
             The insanity defence was first utilized R v M"Naughten (1843, England). Daniel M"Naughten suffered paranoia and believe the Prime Minister at the time was part of a plot to persecute and kill him. M"Naughten then killed the Prime Ministers secretary, believing it to be him, and pleaded insanity at the trial. At the trial it was said, "he knew he was killing, but did not appreciate the nature of his act".

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