In criminal law, negative defences, also known as general defences, are legal defences in which the defendant denies the allegations made against them. The burden of proof remains with the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are some examples of negative defences:
Alibi: The defendant claims that he was somewhere else at the time of the crime and could not have committed it. This defence is based on the premise that a person cannot exist in two places at the same time.
Lack of intent: The defendant claims that he did not have the intention to commit the crime. For example, if the crime requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant acted with a specific intent, such as premeditation or malice, the defendant may argue that he did not have the required intent.
Mistake of fact: The defendant claims that he made an honest mistake of fact that led him to commit the crime. For example, if the defendant took something that he believed belonged to him but was actually someone else's, he could argue that he made an honest mistake.
Insanity: The defendant claims that he was not mentally capable of understanding his actions or the consequences of his actions at the time of the crime. This defence requires a mental health evaluation of the defendant.
Intoxication: The defendant claims that they were intoxicated at the time of the crime and, as a result, did not have the required intent to commit the crime. However, voluntary intoxication is not typically a defence in criminal law.
Consent: The defendant claims that they had the consent of the alleged victim to engage in the conduct that resulted in the crime. This defence is often used in cases of sexual assault or battery.
It is important to note that the availability of these defences varies by jurisdiction, and the success of any defence will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the laws of the jurisdiction where the case is being heard.
You can learn more about this topic and relevant case law with our Criminal Law notes.