In criminal law, irresistible impulse is a defense by excuse, in this case some sort of insanity, in which the defendant argues that they should not be held criminally liable for their actions that broke the law, because they could not control those actions.
The Penal Code of the U.S. state of California states (2002), "The defense of diminished capacity is hereby abolished ... there shall be no defense of ... diminished responsibility or irresistible impulse..."
In English Law the concept of "irresistible impulse" was developed in the 1960 case R v. Byrne. The appellant (described as a violent sexual psychopath) strangled then mutilated a young girl, it was alleged that Byrne suffered from violent and perverted sexual desires which he found impossible to control. Lord Parker C.J. broadened the definition of "abnormality of mind" to include those lacking "the ability to exercise will-power to control acts in accordance with [their] rational judgment".
"Irresistible impulse" can be pleaded only under the defense of diminished responsibility, not under the defense of insanity. Thus it operates only as a defense to murder, reducing the charge to manslaughter, and giving the judge discretion as to length of sentence and whether committal would be more appropriate than incarceration.
Alleged Killer of Prostitutes Haunted By `Irresistible Impulse,' Analyst Says;`Hallucination' Theory Backs Insanity Defense for Va. Suspect
Dec 12, 1990; A clinical psychologist retained by defense attorneys for Chander "Bobby" Matta concluded that Matta was suffering from a mental...
The irresistible impulse-buy PC. (high CPU costs make some PCs less appealing to consumers) (Company Business and Marketing)
Aug 01, 1997; Blame Intel for Desktop Sticker Shock For the past two months, I've been fighting the urge to buy a new PC. That's not a novel...