Assessment of the impact of acute stress in cases of necessary defense by Czech courts



Year of publication 2019
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Ido Movement for Culture. Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Sports Studies

Keywords stress; necessary defense; electrodermal activity; galvanic skin response; court decision analysis; self-defense
Description Background. The activity of a defender in a self-defense situation is strongly influenced by stress, which is almost always present in such situations. This is not a common type of stress, but an acute combat stress that has different manifestations. This stress significantly influences the perception and behavior of the defender, in particular limiting his perception of the whole situation, extending reaction times and worsening motor skills. This thesis also presents the "EDA" method of measuring electrodermal activity to interpret the degree and impact of stress on the performance of the affected person. This is used in teaching and innovating Specialty Education of Security Sections "SEBS", and Applied Sports Education of Security Sections "ASEBS". Problem and aim. The purpose of the thesis is to describe how the Czech courts evaluate and take into account the influence of acute stress in cases of necessary defense before the courts, to evaluate these conclusions and to compare them with the theory and practice of criminal law and self-defense. Methods. The analysis of court decisions was made on the legal status of the Czech Republic in January 2018, using the ASPi from Wolters Kluwers, as legal system. Necessary defense is a criminal law provision that allows anyone to actively defend themselves against assault without it being an act of unlawful conduct. The selected decisions were encoded by the free coding method (the principle of anchored theory) in the Atlantis program, focusing on stress codes and limits of necessary defense In interpreting the results, the inductive and discursive writing method was used, as well as a comparative analysis of individual decisions. To measure EDA the E4 wristband from Empatica, s. r. l. was used. Results. In 17 out of 19 cases, 89% of all cases considered, the courts dealt with the defendant's claim that there was an episode of acute stress. In two cases (11%), the claim of the attacked person was ignored. In 10 out of 19 cases (53%), the courts assessed the mental state of the person being attacked using a forensic expert with the appropriate specialization. In one case, the court concluded that it was necessary to judge the case taking into account the attacked person's subjective perception of either the attack or of the whole conflict situation. In two cases, the courts acknowledged that the attacked person had had reduced recognition skills under the influence of acute stress. In one of these cases, the court stated that the attacked person was obviously suffering diminished capacity, or was wholly incapacitated. Conclusions. The results show that there is wide variation in the assessment of the impact of acute stress, by Czech courts. They usually deal with the potential presence of stress in the person being attacked, but they usually try to evaluate them with their own logical considerations instead of having them evaluated by the appropriate specialists - forensic experts. I believe that this is due to the lack of knowledge of this issue by the courts and ignorance of its importance in cases of necessary defense. It can be stated that the psychological state of the infected person under the influence of acute stress may be closer in some cases to diminished capacity or incapacity. The amount of skin resistance as one of the indicators of electrodermal activity is influenced by the acute stress of the tested person. Using this method and other complementary methods, it would be possible to measure the sensitivity of a person to stress stimuli to which other factors related to situations of necessary defense would be reflected.

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