concepts of criminal law

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  • Since the 1970s, some syndromes have been used as excuse defense (pre-menstrual syndrome and post-traumatic stress syndrome).
  • What other syndromes might be raised as excuses?
  • Do you believe these defenses are legitimate or not? Why or why not?
Aug 9th, 2015

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Accommodation Syndromean abused child lives with a secret of abuse, causing later conditions of helplessness and even lying; used to explain lying in court; doesn't meet Frye test.

American Dream Syndrome, claims cultural influence, of wanting to get ahead economically causes crime.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Arbitrary Abuse of Power Syndrome, claims behavior due to dealing with bureaucrats all day.

Attention Deficit Disorder aka Hyperactivity, used as both defense and mitigating factor. Used in Michael Fay case (caning in Singapore) to plead for mercy, but Singapore didn't buy it.

Battered Child Syndrome, used as excuse for stepkids who kill their stepparent(s)

Battered Woman Syndrome, used as excuse for spouses who kill their mate, a case in Hickory, NC in 1994 involved a city fireman who reversed this to explain killing his wife for fear of his safety.

Black Rage Syndrome, created by NY attorney William Kunstler after reading Black Rage by Grier & Cobbs. Anger over racial injustice serves as catalyst or trigger for pre-existing mental problem. Used unsuccessfully in the Colin Ferguson case who killed six passengers on a Long Island train.

Cherambault-Kandinsky Syndrome, or CKS, an erotomanic disorder invented by John Hopkins sexologists to explain desparate acts, such as child abduction and extortion, common to lovesick parents or ex-spouses, person presumably falls under a "spell" much like epilepsy. Admitted in a NY court in 1992.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Yuppie Disease, affects about 100,000 Americans, impairs daily activities, body aches, and photophobia, a medically recognized condition.

Chronic Lateness Syndrome, used in 1992 to explain a fired Chicago school teacher's tendency to arrive late. Admitted as attempt at justification.

Computer Addiction, a claim that point-and-shoot computer games cause violence.

Cultural Norms Defense, where behaviors typical in one's homeland are illegal here, e.g., Japanese suicide requires killing children first; in this case, jury reduced sentence to manslaughter; typically used when diversity, multiculturalism, or discrimination are related issues.

Distant Father Syndrome, invented by Robert Bly in book Iron John (1993), explains crime as vindictiveness toward an absent father who never payed child support and never showed son his workplace.

Drug Abuse Defense, (People v. Richard 1989, CA) often the claim of child molesters that they are not responsible because they were high on drugs at the time, generally unsuccessful.

Elderly Abuse Syndrome, a victimization condition in which elderly don't want to report a family member.

Everybody Does It Syndrome, often the claim of politicians caught in malfeasance of office that every other governor, sheriff, etc. uses public funds or inmates for personal chores.

Failure-to-File Syndrome, a NY University professor, Steve Coleman, used this in 1994 to explain an overall inability to act in one's best interests, all the while being highly anxious about it. It has been successful in a number of cases, but has yet to be applied to criminal tax cases.

Fan Obsession Syndrome, first invoked by psychiatrist Park Elliot Dietz in 1992 to defend Robert Bardo who killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer. Jury didn't buy it.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, if mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy, produces "sadistic side" of personality later in life, similar to Fetal Trimethadione (Epilepsy medicine) syndrome. Admissible in U.S. and taken quite seriously in Canada.

Football Widow Syndrome, First raised in 1994 in Florida to explain wife who got tired of husband watching football all the time, admitted as excuse.

Gangster Syndrome, a claim of cultural influence, growing up in gang-infested ghetto, causes crime.

Genetics Defense, most courts have been unwilling to allow cytogenetic evidence, such as XYY phenomenon, but is usually entered as excuse and not complete justification

Gone with the Wind Syndrome, named after the movie & used by rape experts to explain why rapists believe sex has to be spontaneous and done after some resistance on the part of the woman.

Gulf War Syndrome, rashes, sores, muscle aches, fatigue presumable due to chemical agents exposure.

Holocaust Survivor Syndrome, first identified in 1952 to explain distrust of governments and other acts of resistance or inabilities to remember.

Legal Abuse Syndrome, a term coined by Karin Huffer, author of Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome, which is not intended to excuse illegal behavior, but to prevent PTSD-type violence against court personnel. Relates to experience with overzealous, punitive, and ethically questionable behavior of court personnel, as in Dennis Fung's case, the criminalist who testified in the OJ Simpson trial. The defense, after a gruelling day of testimony, passed out fortune cookies to the press, calling it "Hung Fung Day".

Meek-Mate Syndrome, first invoked by a CA man in 1994 who killed his wife because she psychologically emasculated him by calling him names, ridiculing him in public, and forcing him to sleep on the floor.

Yes I believe that ths reasons are valid as long as they are indeed diagnosed in the accused.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I'm always happy to answer your questions.
Aug 9th, 2015

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