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The Legal Defence of Automatism in New South Wales

You are not guilty of a criminal offence if your actions were undertaken in a state of automatism,
which is where you acted without consciousness of the nature of the act or exercise of choice to do
the act.

In the event you raise evidence there was a reasonable possibility you acted in a state of
automatism, the prosecution must then prove beyond reasonable doubt your actions were in fact
willed and voluntary. You are entitled to an acquittal if the prosecution is unable to do this.

Examples of situations which may give rise to the defence of automatism include acts committed
while sleepwalking, under anaesthesia, falling asleep at the wheel due to undiagnosed apnoea, while
suffering a fit, post-traumatic loss of control due to head injury, emotional shock or psychological
trauma.

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