Exculpatory defences in criminal law
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The concern of this article is the theory of exculpatory defences in the criminal law of the common-law world. The term ‘exculpatory defences” is here used to describe those general defences which negative criminal culpability despite the presence of the definitional elements of a defence. Culpability may be negatived because the actus reus occurred in a special context, as in defences like self-defence or duress. Alternatively, it may be negatived because of mental impairment, as where an incapacity to know that conduct is wrong grounds an insanity defence. Exculpatory defences arise independently of the definitional elements of offences.
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