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The defense of automatism: What is it?

On Behalf of The Foley Law Firm | August 5, 2017

If you were accused of a crime in Colorado, your criminal defense lawyer may have a lot of defense strategies available to use. However, some criminal defense options will be more appropriate to employ than others. One criminal defense strategy, the defense of automatism, can only be applied in extremely rare circumstances.

The state of automatism refers to an individual who is not in control of his or her actions. The person's muscles and body might be acting without conscious mental control. Or, the person's body is moving but he or she is unconscious. For example, a person with automatism might suddenly lose control, become ill, fall into a fantasy or dream state and then commit a crime in that state.

Automatism could be triggered through post traumatic stress syndrome, getting attacked by bees, or some other reason. For someone to be considered to be an automaton, however, he or she must have completely lost all voluntary control.

An automatism defense would likely come into play if -- for example -- someone kills his or her wife while sleepwalking. Perhaps the sleepwalking episode was particularly intense and an individual imagined his or her wife as a violent attacker who needed to be killed. In this automatism defense, the accused murderer would not try to refute the intention to kill. Rather, the accused person would claim that he or she was not in conscious control of the body at the time.

Do you think that the automatism defense could work in your criminal case? Your criminal defense lawyer can help you review the options for your defense in this regard.

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