When a person is charged with an offence, there are various defences that may be available to them. Some defences can be used for any offence; other defences can only be used for certain offences. If a defence is used successfully, the defendant is usually acquitted of the crime and is free. The exception to this is the defence of insanity where a special verdict of 'not guilty by reason of insanity' is given. This means that the judge then makes an order on what should happen to the defendant. The type of order will depend on the nature of the defendant's mental state. It can range from an order to detain the defendant in hospital down to an absolute discharge.
Here we examine five of the General Defences; Insanity; automatism; self-defence and the prevention of crime; consent and intoxication.