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Med Sci Law. 1998 Apr;38(2):147-52.

An analysis of a recent criminal trial involving sexual misconduct with a child, alcohol abuse and a successful sleepwalking defence: arguments supporting two proposed new forensic categories.

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  • 1Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, Hennepin County Medical Center, USA.


The final judgment from a recent criminal trial in the British Columbia (Canada) Supreme Court is summarized and discussed. The trial involved sexual misconduct with a child, excessive alcohol use, and a successful 'sleepwalking (SW) defence' (non-insane automatism). Our comments on this trial provide an opportunity to present our arguments buttressing two newly proposed forensic categories: (i) parasomnia with continuing danger as a non-insane automatism, which originally was proposed for cases involving recurrent, sleep-related violence, but which can also be applied to SW cases involving sleep-related sexual misconduct and alcohol abuse (and other high-risk self-abusive behaviours); (ii) (intermittent) state-dependent continuing danger, an intermediate category within the 'continuing danger' concept, with the core feature being that a person acquitted of a criminal charge on the basis of the 'SW defence' (or some other parasomnia defence), in which the SW episode was provoked by a high-risk behaviour (e.g. alcohol intoxication) should bear full legal culpability for any future episode that was provoked by a recurrence of the high-risk behaviour--provided that the individual had wilfully engaged in that behaviour.

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