automatism (aw-tom-[schwa]-tiz-[schwa]m), n.

1. Action or conduct occurring without will, purpose, or reasoned intention, such as sleepwalking; behavior carried out in a state of unconsciousness or mental dissociation without full awareness. ? Automatism may be asserted as a defense to negate the requisite mental state of voluntariness for commission of a crime. [Cases: Criminal Law 46. C.J.S. Criminal Law ¡ì¡ì 96¨C98, 113.]

2. The state of a person who, though capable of action, is not conscious of his or her actions. ¡ª automaton, n.

¡°How far is automatism a defence? It has been defined as involuntary action performed in a state of uncons-ciousness not amounting to insanity. Theoretically the defence is that no act in the legal sense took place at all ¡ª the plea is that there was no volition or psychic awareness.¡± George Whitecross Paton, A Textbook of Jurispru-dence 315 (G.W. Paton & David P. Derham eds., 4th ed. 1972).

ambulatory automatism. Automatism that consists in irresponsible or purposeless wanderings.

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