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Criminal Behaviour Orders - Annex J

Legal Guidance

Defence of 'reasonable excuse'

In R v Nicholson [2006] 2 Cr App R 30, the trial judge ruled that, as a matter of law, ignorance of, forgetfulness as to, or misunderstanding of the terms of the ASBO could not amount to a reasonable excuse. R then pleaded guilty and appealed the conviction. The Court of Appeal held that the matters relied on by R were capable of amounting to a reasonable excuse and should have been left to the jury as an issue of fact and value judgement.

In JB v Director of Public Prosecutions [2012] EWHC 72 (Admin) it was held that if the defence of reasonable excuse arose, a defendant could raise his state of mind, as that would usually be relevant. The appellant had pleaded guilty to an offence of criminal damage through recklessness arising from the same circumstances. The appeal court found that the judge was entitled to consider the mental element of that plea in determining the mental element of the breach of the anti-social behaviour order. The appeal was dismissed.

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