Request callback





    Automatism

    Get A Free Case EvaluationHave a legal issue?

    Submit your inquiry to speak to a Senior Lawyer






      Best Automatism Defence Lawyers

      Automatism is a defence that can be applied where your actions were involuntary (ie. you had no control over them). It is different to a mental illness defence.

      If you believe that this defence may apply to you, contact us immediately for an initial free consultation with our accredited specialist criminal lawyer.

      What is Automatism?

      Automatism is a legal defence to a criminal charge. It applies if your actions in committing the crime were involuntary.

      It is most often employed when a person commits a crime while sleepwalking or while ‘blacking out’ due to trauma.

      How Do you Prove Automatism?

      There is a general presumption that your actions are voluntary (R v Falconer (1990) 171 CLR 30 at 40).

      As such, you must prove that there was a reasonable possibility that your actions were not wilful.

      You will generally require some degree of medical evidence in support of this. An expert will need to be briefed to initially prepare a report. Following this, the expert may also be required to attend Court and give evidence.

      Once a Judge or Magistrate determines that there is sufficient evidence for automatism to be raised, the prosecution must then prove beyond reasonable doubt that your actions were voluntary.

      If the prosecution cannot do this, then you will be found ‘not guilty’.

      Examples of Automatism?

      Some examples of automatism include:

      1. suffering an unexpected reaction to medication;
      2. sleepwalking (R v Tolson (1889) 23 QBD 168 at 187). We will need to brief one of our experts to confirm that you were in fact sleep walking and the defence applies to you;
      3. suffering an epileptic fit (R v Youssef (1990) 50 A Crim R 1). A neuropsychiatrist will need to provide a report and possibly appear in Court to give evidence that your actions were due to epilepsy;
      4. you ‘blacked out’ due to trauma and did not have control over your actions.

      Each case will ultimately turn on its own facts. If you believe that tis defence may apply to you, contact our team to arrange an initial consultation.

      When Does Automatism Not Apply?

      There are some circumstances where automatism does not apply:

      1. self-induced automatism. For example, where you knew that you could suffer a reaction to medication or alcohol and you decided to induce that substance anyway;
      2. mental illness. If your actions were due to a mental condition or mental illness, automatism will not apply. Rather, you may be eligible to be found ‘not guilty’ based on a mental illness defence.

      Is Automatism a Complete Defence?

      Yes, automatism is a complete defence. As such, if it is established you can be found ‘not guilty’.

      What is Insane Automatism?

      Insane automatism refers to a person reacting to delusions in their own mind. It is also known as the defence of ‘insanity’. Click here for more information.

      What is Non-Insane Automatism?

      Non-insane automatism, or sane automatism applies when a person reacts to external factors such as a concussion, sleepwalking or a spasm.

      Automatism is a complex defence which often requires expert evidence. That is why you should consult Australia’s best criminal defence lawyers if you believe that this defence could apply to you.

      Contact us to speak to our friendly team.

      Ask a question now!