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What is Automatism?

In order for an accused to be convicted of a crime, their actions must be voluntary. Automatism arises where an act is done without control of the accused over what is being done. Examples of where automatism can arise are sleepwalking, an act done under the influence of an anaesthetic or some forms of epilepsy. It does not include self-induced intoxication.

The test

Unless the Crown proves beyond reasonable doubt that the act of the accused was subject to the control and direction of their will, then the accused must be acquitted because no offence has been committed.

The onus of proof

If automatism is an issue, the defence may raise it for consideration, but it is the Crown to prove beyond reasonable doubt that all of the ingredients of the offence were present, and one of these requirements is that the act was done voluntarily.

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