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Definition of Criminal Responsibiltiy

Definition of Terms: Legal Criteria Under Criminal Code of Canada for a Defense of Not Criminally Responsible”

Mental disorder

  • defined in the Criminal Code of Canada as a disease of the mind
  • can include any mental abnormality which causes impairment with the exception of voluntary intoxication or transient mental states such as hysteria or concussion
  • consequently, personality disorders are eligible for this defence. At the present time this is uncommon, largely because appellate court decisions have rendered it unlikely that an individual with a personality disorder would be unable to appreciate the nature and quality of the act in the manner that the courts have ruled.


  • implies an ability to foresee and measure consequences and not simply to know in the cognitive sense.

“Nature and quality

– refers to the physical consequences of an act.
Knowing that the act or omission was wrong”

  • implies knowledge of both legal and moral wrongfulness. “Moral” means according to societal rather than individual moral code of the accused. It is insufficient that the individual simply chooses to follow their own moral dictates when they have the capacity to understand that it is wrong in the eyes of the law and wrong according to societys usual standards.
  • the accused must have the ability to apply that knowledge rationally