Saturday, July 2, 2011
The Model Penal Code identifies, "conduct during hypnosis or resulting from hypnotic suggestion," as an exception to a, "voluntary act," that is a requirement for responsibility for a crime, on the basis that such cases are involuntary and thus not the responsibility of the actor involved. This paper argues that this exception is not sufficiently well grounded in experimental evidence or known instances of criminal activity under the influence of hypnosis to justify such a general exception in the law, and that allowing such an exception has the potential to create a moral hazard by making hypnosis an excuse for criminal conduct. While such cases may occur, the circumstances under which it may occur are narrower than the exception describes. This paper summarizes the empirical evidence from studies of hypnosis and past cases in the criminal law where hypnosis was alleged to have produced involuntary criminal actions.