Not Criminally Responsible Defence
What does the Not Criminally Responsible Defence Mean?
Under s.16 of the Criminal Code of Canada, everyone is presumed not to suffer from a mental disorder rendering them incapable of criminal responsibility. Anyone trying to show the contrary has the burden of proof on the balance of probabilities.
To meet that onus, there must be evidence that at the time of the offence, the accused suffered from a disease of the mind rendering him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of his act or incapable of knowing the act was wrong.
“Appreciating the nature and quality of the act” means being capable of analyzing the physical consequences of the act.
“Knowing it’s wrong” means having the intellectual ability to know it’s morally wrong and, further, being able to rationally choose how to act.
While first-degree murder requires proof that the accused’s intentional act of killing was done with planning and deliberation, that evidence is not necessarily inconsistent with an inability to know that the act was wrong. An ability to plan doesn’t determine the ability to make a rational moral decision.