This defence protects people who are accused of committing a crime when it was physically, factually or legally impossible for them to have done so.

The defence of impossibility may be raised when it is physically, factually, or legally impossible for the accused to have committed the crime they have been charged with.

Physical impossibility exists where it is physically impossible for the accused to have committed the offence. This can arise in circumstances where the accused is physically incapable, for instance due to physical incapacity such as an injury or medical condition, of committing the crime they are charged with.

Factual impossibility arises when the facts used by the prosecution rest on claims of fact that are inaccurate or false. This is relevant in cases where the accused can prove they were at a difference place at the time when the offence happened. This is commonly referred to as an ‘alibi’.

Legal impossibility refers to facts which make it impossible for a person to be charged for an offence under the law. For example, a defence of legal impossibility may be raised if a person is charged with handling stolen goods, and the goods are in fact not stolen.

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