Share13 Shares The insanity defense is one of the most popularly depicted criminal defense strategies in television and film culture.
In Support of the Insanity Defense Policy Society has long recognized the need to distinguish between those defendants charged with a crime who are and those who are not responsible for their acts.
It is vital that states provide for the ongoing availability of a complete insanity defense resulting in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. When the insanity defense does not apply, the availability of mens rea and diminished capacity defenses remains critically important.
States must provide individuals who are acquitted by reason of insanity with appropriate, recovery-based treatment, rather than treat these defendants as if they have been found guilty.
The Insanity Defense Criminal sanctions promote public safety through the deterrent effect of the punishment itself and through the stigma of a criminal conviction.
Criminal sanctions also further retributivist goals. Without blameworthiness, however, punishment is not justified. Since concerns about public safety and the need for treatment usually remain after acquittal, these concerns should be addressed through involuntary treatment in mental hospitals rather than through confinement in prison.
Mental Disease or Defect Excluding Responsibility. This formulation represents the consensus of American legal scholars on the appropriate scope of the insanity defense.
The Insanity Defense in Practice Despite public fears, defendants do not abuse the availability of the insanity defense. Finally, there is a high likelihood of court-mandated treatment following an insanity acquittal, often lasting a substantial length of time, which serves protect the public from defendants who may be dangerous and also to discourage people from pretending to be mentally ill in order to use the defense.
After the MPC was first promulgated, most states initially incorporated identical or substantially similar defenses into their laws. Since the late s, however, many states have taken action to limit their insanity defense laws and to bring them back toward pre-MPC formulations.
Arizona,[ 12 ] and denied certiorari in Delling v. MHA agrees with this dissenting position.
MHA strongly opposes the popular, scientifically-unfounded belief that mental illness predisposes a person to act violently. Community Mental Health Response, http: The Mens Rea and Diminished Capacity Defenses To be guilty of a crime, a person must intend to do the act that the state seeks to punish.
Thus far, the Supreme Court has held that a diminished capacity defense is not constitutionally guaranteed. But Mental Health America believes that people accused of crimes should be able to assert mens rea and diminished capacity defenses at trial using expert psychological evidence.
A diminished capacity defense is different from a mens rea defense, but the two overlap considerably and there is not always a clear distinction between the two. As ofonly three states still allowed a diminished capacity defense.
Moreover, even if the defendant possessed the required mens rea, the mental illness may remain relevant to determining the extent of his or her blameworthiness, thus necessitating a diminished capacity defense as well. The MPC Approach The MPC both assures a mens rea defense and establishes a limited diminished capacity defense in the same section, which provides as follows: While this formulation is more protective than the current law in the vast majority of states, the diminished capacity defense should not be limited to capital cases.
A broader, but still sufficiently limited, defense would allow diminished capacity mitigation in all specific intent crimes, not only in capital crimes. First, they are inappropriate because the GBMI verdict is no different in practice from a finding of guilty.
Second, they are inappropriate because this alternative to the insanity defense may confuse jurors. A GBMI verdict provides no benefit to society or to criminal defendants because it has the same consequences as a guilty verdict.
Someone found GBMI may be given any sentence that she or he could have been given if found guilty. That includes a sentence of death. Persons found GBMI are entitled to mental health services while imprisoned. However, they have no greater right to mental health services in prison than those simply found guilty.
That is because all persons confined in prison have a constitutional right to mental health services. This issue is compounded by the fact that jurors are often wary of the NGRI verdict. In either context, the GBMI verdict is inappropriate and seriously undermines the important policies that require maintaining the insanity and diminished capacity defenses, discussed above.With controversies swirling around mental health and the criminal justice system, the Senate Jurisprudence Committee on Thursday launched a legislative study of the insanity defense and its implications for victims and defendants alike.
While the insanity defense is a legal doctrine, at its heart it is the expression of a moral principle found in societies across time and multiple cultures: individuals should not be punished for.
The legal basis for insanity was codified into British law in the mid 19th Century with the M'Naughten Rule, which is used in a majority of U.S. states and other jurisdictions around the world today.
Plea Bargain; Pretrial Hearings and Motions; Sentencing; Back to Top. Learn More About Legal Topics State Laws Company History Media. Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: a Look Into the Insanity Defense Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: A Look into the Insanity Defense On Friday, March 3, , the trial of The Queen v.
Daniel McNaughton (West, Walk 12) began. The early history of the insanity defense can be dated back as early as government. Even back in this period of history, many people viewed it as immoral to punish someone for a crime where they had no idea what they were doing was wrong at the time.
Indeed, the insanity defense in itself has been stretched nearly to its breaking point. In this analytical examination of the insanity plea, I will illustrate how, in some cases the insanity plea is necessary while in other cases, the use of the insanity plea is illegitimate.
The history of the insanity defense goes back as far as government.