This is the last of three chapters analysing sets of exceptions to the determinative role of elements in criminal law. While Chapter 8 (Groups) and Chapter 9 (Failures) examined doctrines allowing a person to be found guilty of a crime without proof of all the elements, this chapter considers rules that permit a person to be acquitted of a crime despite proof of all the elements.
Just as there are (almost) countless criminal offences, there are also very many exceptions to criminal offences. Most treatises on criminal law deal almost exclusively with the handful of ‘general defences’ that are set out in the general criminal law: self-defence, necessity, duress, insanity. In keeping with this book’s philosophy, the focus of this chapter is instead largely on the many exceptions set out throughout the statute book, in both offence provisions and elsewhere. While the meaning of each exception is a matter of statutory interpretation, some general approaches can be identified.