Trial of Lunatics Act 1883

The Trial of Lunatics Act 1883 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, allowing the jury to return a verdict that the defendant was guilty, but insane at the time, and should be kept in custody as a "criminal lunatic".[1] This Act was passed at the request of Queen Victoria, who, the target of frequent attacks by mentally ill individuals, demanded that the verdict be changed from "not guilty" so as to act as a deterrent to other lunatics; the phrasing of "guilty of the act or omission charged, but insane so as not to be responsible, according to law, for his actions." remained in use until the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964.[2]

Trial of Lunatics Act 1883
Long titleAn Act to amend the Law respecting the Trial and Custody of Insane Persons charged with offences.
Citation46 and 47 Vict. c. 38
Territorial extentEngland, Ireland, Wales
Royal assent25 August 1883
Commencement25 August 1883
Status: Amended
Revised text of statute as amended

It was cited in 1991 in the case of R v Burgess regarding the automatism defence.[3]

The form of special verdict provided for by this Act was commonly known as guilty but insane. This expression was not an accurate description of that verdict.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Crotty, Homer D. (1924). "The History of Insanity as a Defence to Crime in English Criminal Law". California Law Review. University of California, Berkeley School of Law. 12 (2): 120. ISSN 0008-1221.
  2. ^ White, Stephen (1985). "The Insanity Defense in England and Wales Since 1843". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. American Academy of Political and Social Science. 477: 45. doi:10.1177/0002716285477001005. ISSN 0002-7162.
  3. ^ "Criminal law; insanity -- R v Burgess". Law Society Gazette. 22 May 1991. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ The Royal Commission on Capital Punishment (1949–1953). Report. Cmd 8932. HMSO. 1953. Paragraph 458 at page 157.

External linksEdit