Sexsomnia – also known as sleep sex, is an abnormal activity that occurs while an individual is asleep.
Whilst most people are familiar with sleepwalking – sexsomnia is largely misunderstood or not known about.
Also known as a parasomnia, the condition can be sexually aggressive – which can lead to sexual abuse and even rape – which the accused will not remember at all. Sometimes referred to as sleep rape.
Seven Year Sentence for Sexsomniac
Dr Guy Leschziner, a consultant neurologist, is an expert in the condition of parasomnia.
A man sentenced to seven years for rape was recently examined by the neurologist and reported on by the BBC.
“His brainwaves in his sleep study show something very unusual. He appears to be awake and deeply asleep at the same time. During brief periods we can see the large slow brainwaves of deep sleep, with superimposed fast rhythms, suggesting simultaneously that he is awake.”
Could a sexsomnia diagnosis have had a bearing on the man’s rape conviction?
“Without having electrodes attached during the night of the rape, it’s impossible to be sure whether it was as a result of his sleep disorder,” says Leschziner. “He was found guilty by a jury.”
However, there have been several court cases involving sleep disorders, including sexsomnia, which have resulted in acquittals.
When deciding these cases, the jury must decide whether someone has criminal intent or is acting as an automaton, without conscious awareness.
Expert witnesses and defence strategies.
Forensic psychologists, neurologists and sleep disorder experts as well family witnesses can all give evidence in cases of sexsomnia.
Because defendants don’t have their brainwaves measured when they carry out the attack it can be difficult to know if they were conscious.
If there’s evidence of conscious deliberation, motivation or of recall, it rules out automatism.
However, if there is a history of previous sleepwalking or actions whilst asleep, sexsomnia should not be ruled out as a legitimate argument for defendants.
“People in this state can talk, walk, eat, cook, drive, or even have sex, without clear consciousness or memory.”
Dr Guy Leschziner, Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals
Criminal Solicitors use a range of experts when defending allegations.
Being questioned for sexual offence means you should have a criminal solicitor to defend you. Allegations can have a lasting and damaging impact. Your life, reputation and liberty are at stake.
For more on Sexual Offences and our sexual defence solicitors.
At Ashmans Solicitors we may be able to identify a defence which could completely exonerate you.
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