The Role of Emotions in Criminal Law Defences

The Role of Emotions in Criminal Law Defences : Duress, Necessity and Lesser Evils

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The law has struggled for many years with the problem of how to accommodate those who commit crimes due to threats or circumstances. The modern ambivalence surrounding the defences of duress and necessity has its origins in the legal past. To date the defences of duress and necessity have been couched in terms such as compulsion, involuntariness and human frailty, resulting in the true nature of the defences being hidden. Psychologists and legal theorists have begun to re-examine the role of emotions in human action, including their effect upon behaviour and choice. In light of recent breakthroughs, Eimear Spain considers how the emotions experienced by those who act due to threats, both human and natural in origin, should affect the attribution of criminal responsibility and punishment. The understanding of emotions extrapolated in this book points towards a new rationale for the existing defences of duress and necessity.
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About Eimear Spain

Eimear Spain is a Lecturer in Law at the School of Law, University of Limerick, where her research focuses on the interaction between law and psychology, particularly the role of emotions in criminal behaviour and the criminal justice system.
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Table of contents

1. Thematic overview; 2. The role of emotions in legal theory; 3. Structure of the defences; 4. Elements of the defences; 5. Threats and the taking of life; 6. A reappraisal.
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