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Author Topic:   Biology is Destiny?
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 95 of 129 (642428)
11-28-2011 5:29 PM
Reply to: Message 92 by Tangle
11-28-2011 4:40 AM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
Amateurs make poor lawyers. You've completely misunderstood mens re.

All that is required for the mens re element of a crime to be satisfied is that the defendant intended to perform the act. Whether or not the defendant appreciated that the act was wrong, or understood all of the consequences of his action are generally not relevant (with some subtle exceptions that don't apply here) to meeting mens re.

Added by edit:

My post is somewhat simplistic because some offenses require a lesser mental state than intent, but the point remains that lacking moral choice does not mean that the mens re element for a crime is not met.

If a person does not have the mens re, then the person did not commit an offense. Of course a person cannot be liable or culpable for an offense that he did not commit.

Separate from the question of guilt is the question of culpability which can turn on the mental state of the defendant. The standard varies from state to state, and in some states a person incapable of making a moral choice might still be legally responsible for his actions.

It is possible that a particular mental derangement might make make a defendant incapable of possessing mens re but being incapable of free moral choice would not.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.

Edited by NoNukes, : Clarification on intent


This message is a reply to:
 Message 92 by Tangle, posted 11-28-2011 4:40 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 96 by Tangle, posted 11-28-2011 6:20 PM NoNukes has responded

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 99 of 129 (642444)
11-28-2011 10:38 PM
Reply to: Message 96 by Tangle
11-28-2011 6:20 PM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
I think not, as you say yourself, mental derangement can make a defendent incapable of possessing mens re(a) - which is exactly my point. If a disease can be shown to have removed a person's ability to act in a moral way, he can not be culpable in law.

Not quite correct.

Some mental derangements can affect mens re. But in particular, a lack of a moral compass is does not have that effect. If your reasoning does not allow for this, then it is wrong. Further, I'm absolutely sure that US and UK law are identical on this point as we inherited this bit of common law from you guys.

If a disease can be shown to have removed a person's ability to act in a moral way, he can not be culpable in law.

In some jurisdictions, yes. But not because of a lack of mens re.

For example, a person who knows that a gun can make a hole in a man's head resulting in death, but does not appreciate that doing so is wrong can possess the mens re to commit murder.

On the other hand if a persons derangement makes him think that Bob is a reptile, then the person cannot have the requisite mens re to murder Bob.

In some jurisdictions, the lack of moral compass may allow the person to escape punishment despite having met the elements of a crime (including mens re).

In other jurisdictions lacking a moral compass would not be sufficient to escape punishment. In the US, every state picks its own standard, and the modern trend is to make if increasingly difficult to use insanity as a defense.

Which brings me to some reasons why the distinction between mens re and the insanity defense is significant. In the US and in the UK, mens re is an element of the crime that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand an insanity defense must be proven by the defendant. The defense has to warn the state sufficiently far in advance of trial that it intends to prove insanity. On the other hand, it is always in season to dispute the state's evidence regarding mens re.

In the UK at least, Fred would have been fairly quickly judged incapable of even making a plea

That doesn't address the issue at all. There are many possibilities for avoiding punishment for a crime and only a few of them deal with mens re.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 96 by Tangle, posted 11-28-2011 6:20 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 102 by Tangle, posted 11-29-2011 4:08 AM NoNukes has responded

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 104 of 129 (642478)
11-29-2011 8:56 AM
Reply to: Message 102 by Tangle
11-29-2011 4:08 AM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
Ok, as we've decided to have a hair splitting legal discussion instead of a science based one and because it's what Stephen Fry calls QI [Quite Interesting] I'll clarify.

Didn't you deign to lecture someone on mens re? Yet correcting the errors in your legal pronouncements is somehow hair splitting? I don't accept that.

Lacking a moral compass and acting without knowing what he was doing are two separate ideas, and I've already provided examples to illustrate the difference. Lacking a moral compass does not, in and off itself negate mens re.

And again your statements about proving intent seem to map to all mental related things to mens re and thus are wrong.

I can't answer for whatever mess you guys made of our laws once you got your excessively punitive hands on them

You don't have to answer for that. I've done that for you.

If you don't know the answer to some legal point, why argue with someone who quite obviously knows more about the subject than you without doing some homework? US and UK common law use essentially the same approach to mens re.

The short answer is as Dr. Adequate explained it. Mens re does not encompass everything legally relevant about the defendant's mental state.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 102 by Tangle, posted 11-29-2011 4:08 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 106 by Tangle, posted 11-29-2011 12:52 PM NoNukes has responded

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 105 of 129 (642479)
11-29-2011 9:08 AM
Reply to: Message 101 by Dr Adequate
11-29-2011 3:38 AM


Re: Mens Rea
In the UK it would still be true that he had no mens rea, it just wouldn't matter.

This is probably not the correct analysis. Mens re is specifically addressed to one or more statutory elements of the crime. If the elements of the crime are different in the US and UK, then the mens re is going to be different and apply to a different actus reus. If a crime is strict liability, there is no mens re requirement.

I find it difficult to believe that drunk driving is completely a strict liability crime in the UK, although I may be wrong. But if your buddies were to pick up your passed out drunk body off the sofa, dump it into a car, and the push your car down the highway, surely you could not be said to have the mens re to operate a vehicle while drunk if all you did was step on the brake and steer the car to the curb.

But I don't know for sure and I'm not going to check.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by Dr Adequate, posted 11-29-2011 3:38 AM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 109 by caffeine, posted 11-30-2011 9:25 AM NoNukes has acknowledged this reply

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 107 of 129 (642509)
11-29-2011 1:31 PM
Reply to: Message 106 by Tangle
11-29-2011 12:52 PM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
Let's just try to agree the principle of the bloody thing or we'll be arguing for weeks about something that is incidental to the point of the thread.

I'll agree to drop the whole thing without saying another word.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 106 by Tangle, posted 11-29-2011 12:52 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 108 by Tangle, posted 11-29-2011 3:31 PM NoNukes has acknowledged this reply

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 117 of 129 (642818)
12-01-2011 10:26 PM
Reply to: Message 110 by Tangle
11-30-2011 11:45 AM


Re: Neurology Matters
In the law, the definition of criminal is pretty much cut and dried. Criminal acts are those in which constitutionally valid criminal laws (common law or statutory) are violated.

However crimes can be further broken down in to "malum prohibitum" crimes which while criminal are not inherently bad, and malum in se crimes which are for one reason or another acts that are bad regardless of the fact that there are laws against them.

It is understandable that people might have different views about whether criminal acts are bad or benign. I can even agree that some criminal acts are admirable. But with regard to which acts are criminal, the answer is fairly objective. If the law is constitutional, and prohibits an act, then the act is criminal.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 110 by Tangle, posted 11-30-2011 11:45 AM Tangle has not yet responded

  
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