The defence of automatism is used to protect the accused from being charged for offences committed while they are unable to control their behaviour due to a ‘disease of the mind’.
You may have heard the term, ‘statutes of limitations’. What is actually referred by this is the legal defence of charges being barred by statute. This defence is grounded in the principle that it is disadvantageous or unfair for a person to defend a criminal charge after a certain time has passed. This is particularly important in cases where evidence, such as memories or recollections of witnesses, can erode over time and become less reliable.
For some criminal offences, there are strict time limits set by law on how long after an offence has been committed that police are permitted to wait before pressing charges. For those offences, it is unlawful for someone to be charge after the time limit set by law has passed.
These limits depend largely on how serious the offence is, however for many summary offences they can be as low as one year.
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