The criminal code of the Northern Territory
: a critical analysis and appraisal of its fundamental principles of criminal responsibility

  • John Allan Lowndes

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Section 31 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT)1 is a unique provision which has no parallel in the common law or in other Australian Code jurisdictions. Its provisions raise a number of fundamental issues relating to general principles of criminal responsibility. The aim of this thesis is to identify those issues and to highlight the problems posed by s 31 and associated provisions of the Code. This thesis offers possible solutions to those problems.Those proposed solutions do not, however, profess to provide definitive answers, but are put forward with a view to stimulating further investigation of those problematical areas of the Code and the ways in which those difficulties might be resolved by legislative action - leading to an improvement of the criminal law of the Northern Territory.

    Some of the problems with the Code may also exist in other Code jurisdictions. Therefore, the analysis undertaken by this thesis, and the recommendations made therein, have a broader application, and may be of interest to legislators in other jurisdictions.

    The first issue concerns the jurisprudential construct in which the Criminal Code (NT) operates, with particular emphasis on s 31 which treats the absence of intention or recklessness as a criminal law excuse. The second relates to the operation of s 31 and s 322 (an associated section) as general provisions for criminal responsibility and their application to specific offences, that is, the extent to which they control and govern the scope of specific offences. The third concerns the practical application of ss 31 and 32 to particular offences and involves the marrying of the mental elements in those two sections with the physical elements of an offence. The fourth and final issue concerns the nature and scope of the mental elements prescribed by ss 31 and 32.
    Date of Award2004
    Original languageEnglish

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