Fain V. Commonwealth

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Submitted By cibrian80
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Fain v. Commonwealth
The defendant in this case shot and killed an individual. The court reversed the defendant’s conviction for two separate reasons related to the defendant’s condition. What were those reasons?
If the prisoner is and has been afflicted in the manner claimed, and knew, as he no doubt did, his propensity to do acts of violence when aroused from sleep, he was guilty of a grave breach of social duty in going to sleep in the public room of a hotel with a deadly weapon on his person, and merits, for that reckless disregard of the safety of others, some degree of punishment, but we know of no law under which he can be punished. Our law only punishes for overt acts done by responsible moral agents. If the prisoner was unconscious when he killed the deceased, he cannot be punished for that act and as the mere fact that he had the weapon on his person and went to sleep with it there did no injury to anyone he cannot be punished for that. (pg 207)

How did the two reasons different and does one describe on involuntary act by the defendant?
Well this case rests on the tenet that there can be no criminality in the absence of criminal intent so the first reason states that the defendant was at fault or knowing that he had a chance of being violent when awaken, yet still he went to sleep in a public place while armed with a gun and that there should be a punishment for that but there is no such law that lets the courts charge him for his grave and reckless disregard of others. The second states that there is no punishment that can be given because just by going to sleep with a weapon doesn’t actually mean you’re going to cause harm to someone else. Yes one does describe an involuntary act the first one does cases there is no way to control where you fall asleep if you are very sleep deprived as the defendant was due to his children being…...

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