Sleepwalking is a peculiar, distressing, and potentially dangerous sleep behavior. However, there are definite medical and legal implications for a criminal offense committed during a Sleepwalking phase, as the offender is not held responsible for the act.
Medical Issues and Legal Issues
Sleepwalking can adversely affect another sleep condition such as obstructive sleep apnea by interfering with nasal continuous positive-pressure therapy .
Sleepwalkers are often misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated as psychiatric disorders.
Such cases must be evaluated by professional sleep specialists.
They may also have forensic implications. Accidents, homicides, and suicides may occur during these bizarre nocturnal experiences
Failing to advise patients and/or their caretakers about the risks of injury to self or others could be construed as punishable, depending on the extent of the damage sustained.
Failure to look for an underlying cause for sleepwalking, especially when the onset is in adulthood, also could be punishable.