Individual differences |
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If the acts and omissions of an individual suffering from PTSD result in consequences that breach the criminal law, there may be levels of confusion that prevent the formation of the relevant mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind") so mistake or reasonable excuse may be a defence. In more extreme cases, the defence of automatism may be available, with particular conditions discussed at automatism (case law). However, there is a danger that although the initial cause of the disorder will be external, it may produce an internal defect of reason or an abnormality of mind within the meaning of the M'Naghten Rules (redefined as a mental disorder defence in some criminal jurisdictions) that define insanity as an excuse. The difference is that whereas defences that negate the mens rea and automatism result in an acquittal, insanity or mental disorder leaves the "offender" available for sentencing by the court. In the event that a death has resulted, diminished responsibility may be available as an alternative to insanity. This defence reduces what would otherwise have been murder to manslaughter. For a detailed discussion of a sometimes related condition, see battered woman syndrome and, more generally, the abuse defense in the U.S.