The criminal offence of Hamesucken is a long established one in Scots law. It has never been referenced in English law to anyone’s knowledge. In essence it is an aggravated form of assault. It is the breaking into the house of an individual and assaulting them with the intention of so doing. In days gone by it was a capital offence and indeed people have been hanged having been convicted of Hamesucken. Some examples include James Whiteford who was hanged in Edinburgh on 18 August 1819 and Bryce Judd & Thomas Clapperton who were both hanged in Edinburgh on 5 January 1820. Times have moved on and Scotland has become more civilised in terms of punishing those convicted of criminal offences. The offence is still a serious one. A person expects to feel safe in their own home and indeed any offence that is commissioned in the home of the victim is a serious one.
Many offences in Scots law have some pretty interesting names and Hamesucken is just one example. These are the offences that tend to get law students (or in my experience anyway) talking. I have often been involved in discussions with people on Twitter and from Uni about these offences and just whether the Scottish Courts are still graced with them today. As the law moves on and Scotland gains a longer list of statutory offences the older common law offences can sometimes appear as if they are facing extinction. Figures released by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service under Freedom of Information reveal that Hamesucken is still alive and used in Scotland today.
In 2010 85 persons were prosecuted by COPFS where Hamesucken was coded as a charge and of those 25 charges of Hamesucken resulted in a conviction (with 35 cases still ongoing). The first six months of 2011 saw 5 charges of Hamesucken successfully proven in Scotland with 28 cases still to be concluded. Over the last 4 and a half years there have been a total of 310 people across Scotland have been charged where Hamesucken was coded as an offence.
The days gone by of Scots law, particularly Scots criminal law, are very interesting and indeed sometimes gruesome. It makes the study of law all the more interesting and enjoyable.
One thought on “Hamesucken is alive and well in modern Scots law”
For an (admittedly very odd) form of amusement, a flick through the Consolidated Index to the Laws of Scotland AKA Stair never fails to throw up some bizarre topics…Celluloid storage? Horsedrawn vehicle drivers duty of care? Jason clause? Overflight? Public tranquility? Rust remover?
The Glossary: Scottish Legal Terms, Latin Maxims and European Community Legal Terms also has some excellent random Scots law phrases and Latin – hours of entertainment!
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