The Pros And Cons Of Criminal Punishment

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The requirement that the prosecution prove mens rea means that criminal punishment won’t be applied to a person unless he or she was culpable for his or her act. Culpability arises when the defendant either knew what they were doing or what they were risking, or when they failed to reach a standard of behaviour expected of normal people. For example; Suppose A stabs B, A therefore will be culpable of murder, if his actions were intentional, or manslaughter. However what if A did not know what he was doing? Consider that when A stabbed B he did so under a delusion that he was in fact fighting with a monster of fictional sorts, and that this said delusion was caused by a mental disorder. Though A’s act was voluntary, through no fault of his own he did not understand the reality what he was doing. It would therefore be very harsh to find A culpable for B’s death. So A has proven himself to be a danger to others and will need expert treatment before being allowed to return to society. The law deals with these situations by treating insane offenders as patients who bear no criminal responsibility for their actions, but who must go under medical care if medical experts think it is necessary. For this reason the issue of insanity in criminal law has been very controversial, being seen oftentimes as a ruse to avoid criminal punishment. Insanity is rarely pleaded outside of homicide cases, figures from the Court Service show that between 2000 and 2013 insanity was pleaded in less
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