The insanity defense has become popularized by criminal television shows, but it is not used as portrayed. According to Dr. Zachary Torry, a psychiatrist, the defense is actually used in one percent of cases and not even one-fourth of those cases will succeed in front of a jury (Torry). Furthermore, the legal definition of insanity is very different than the societal definition. As stated by George Blau, a criminal defense lawyer, “insane” does not describe someone who is psychotic or crazy, but it instead describes someone who does not know the difference between right or wrong. They are found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) because one of the three traits of a crime is not evident. The three traits are a guilty mind (mens rea), a prohibited act, and a pre-established sentence (Blau). For the insane, there is no mens rea because someone cannot feel guilty for an act that they do not know is wrong. Therefore, those found NGRI have a different punishment than those convicted of a crime. Their sentence is often time at a mental institution where treatment is available, but the sentences can be irregular and unchecked by government associations. Therefore, the insanity defense may need to be amended, by requiring monitoring of the cases and adopting the mens rea approach or to be completely abolished because of its potential improper use and a lack of proof.
There are some differences between a normal criminal and a criminal that suffers from a mental illness in the criminal justice system. For example one of the many fundamentals to our criminal justice system is the principle that no one can be tried or adjudged to punishment while mentally incompetent. Trials for mentally unstable people have been modified and are run by different guidelines. Unlike a regular convict, most mentally unstable convicts are unable to comprehend or are unable to complete a trial. Once a convict with a mental illness is convicted or awaiting trail their every medical need must be accommodated within the faculty and it's staff. Without the proper medical care a person with mental illness can become
Given the number of incarcerated inmates who suffer from some form of mental illness, there are growing concerns and questions in the medical field about treatment of the mentally ill in the prison system. When a person with a mental illness commits a crime or break the law, they are immediately taken to jail or sent off to prison instead of being evaluated and placed in a hospital or other mental health facility. “I have always wondered if the number of mentally ill inmates increased since deinstitutionalization” Since prison main focus is on the crimes inmates are incarcerated; the actual treatment needed for the mentally ill is secondary. Mentally ill prisoners on the surface may appear to be just difficult inmates depending on the
Since our justice system is designed to punish those who have deliberately chosen to do something wrong, there is a defence for those who have a “disease of the mind” (Verdun-Jones, Criminal Law in Canada, 2015, p. 206) because they, technically speaking, did not choose to do so in their right mind. Such defence is the defence of “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder” (Verdun-Jones, Criminal Law in Canada, 2015, p. 204). As stated in section 16(1) of the Criminal Code (Carswell, 2015):
The first criminal defense is pleading insanity which is an affirmative defense. Insanity is a “legal term rather than a medical one, and indicates a condition that renders the affected person incapable of rational thought, thereby removing criminal culpability” (Pollock, 2013). This means that a defendant is not responsible for their actions due to having mental health issues. If a defendant pleads guilty to a crime, but is found to be legally insane; they will still serve their sentence but with a lesser severe punishment. Once a defendant pleads insanity, they are often required to have a mental examination. When a defendant is in a court of law, they may claim that they were as mentally impaired with illness as to be “insane” at the time that they were committing the illegal act (Pollock, 2013). However, when pleading insanity it can also create issues by being used in a criminal proceeding.
In most cases, the Actus Reus, meaning a “guilty act” would be present, however may vary for the case for the Mens Rea element, meaning a “guilty mind”. Without either of these two elements, the defendant is not guilty, which can apply in the cases for Not Criminally Responsible offenders. When understanding the mind of an NCR offender, it is critical to grasp the Mens Rea within the crime because if a mental illness had prevented for the “guilty mind” to be present during the time of the crime, should it really be the mentally ill offender’s fault? Under Section 16 of the Criminal Code of Canada, an individual can only be considered as an NCR offender if either the mental disorder made it impossible for the offender to understand the morality of their actions and/or the offender could not understand the nature or quality of their actions (Legal Aid Ontario, n.d.). A judge can establish an NCR assessment whenever the defendant pleads guilty, however, this may vary from case to case (Legal Aid Ontario, n.d.). The NCR assessment is taken into account when proving the credibility of the mentally ill offender and whether or not their actions were intentionally towards a person when committing the crime (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2013). Therefore, to be considered a NCR offender itself is a difficult argument to prove in court. In addition, the offences that a mentally disordered civilian has been presumed to commit must be proven to the court with the Mens Rea element present. According to a study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (2013), most NCRMD individuals who have been accused of one of the violent offenses such as homicide, attempted murder, and sexual offences, have been diagnosed in the psychosis spectrum, being 37.8%, while 68.9% (113 individuals studied) had psychosis issues. About 21% have personality disorders, 23.6% with
The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S.1822), sponsored by Senator Frank Padavan (R-C, Bellerose), that would allow juries to find defendants "guilty but mentally ill" in cases where they believe the defendant may have been mentally ill at the time of the crime, but should still be held responsible for his or her actions.
Mental Illness has been prevalent all throughout our history from Isaac Newton to Abraham Lincoln to Sylvia Plath and so on. These illnesses can be as minor as a slight bipolar disorder or as severe as schizophrenia. In recent years, mental illnesses are becoming more prevalent in our criminal justice systems than anywhere else. Mental illness is becoming an association with crime and based on the information that has been found, this paper will attempt to further define the problem of mental illness within our criminal justice system and offer alternatives or insights as to how to possibly help with this problem.
The defense presented by Paul University in this case is based on the fact that Ms. Leslie signed a waiver agreement before attending a yoga class and additionally exhibited irresponsible behavior while participating in the class. Paul University is a private university in New York, and sponsors a Recreational Sports Department. This department offered the introductory yoga class to the students at the university however; it was not a required course, not part of the educational mission of the university, but part of a recreational sports program. Furthermore, this recreational yoga class was not art of the interscholastic or intercollegiate sport department at Paul University.
Filicide can be defined as the act of murdering one’s own child or children; acts of filicide are normally projected loudly in media. There are cases of filicide in which the defense of the accused, plead as not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder referred to as NCRMD. In order to submit the verdict of NCRMD, the criminal act must have been committed at a time in which the accused had already been previously diagnosed with a mental disorder; therefore, resulting in the prevention of understanding the act and its quality. Similarly, in the R. v. Schoenborn case, Schoenborn sought for defence of NCRMD while being charged with first-degree murder for his three children. He had been attempting to fix his relationship with his life partner but was rejected; thereafter, he brutally murdered their children in his partner’s trailer home in Merritt, British Columbia. He was found NCRMD in April 2008 and was held at the psychiatric hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Recently, he has been granted day passes to be in the community outside of the psychiatric facility. There are many cases like this one, where different factors lead to the act of filicide. These factors associated to filicide may be situational, including separation, substance abuse and various others. There are numerous filicide cases in which NCRMD is included; therefore, making it evident that mental health is a significant risk factor. It is essential that one assesses what
First of all, I agree with Melissa that DSM is not clear enough to let us understand what mental disorders really are. In fact, comorbidity are extremely common, and DSM’s criteria are polythetic, which means that one disorder can be easily diagnosed if some criteria has been met. For instance, as the text mentioned, most NCRMD can be individuals with psychotic disorders and/or schizophrenia. In general, individuals with psychotic disorders had serious problems with thinking, understanding, and communication with others, and maybe more importantly, they cannot behave appropriately. Thus, they tend to commit crimes because they have no clear understanding about their behaviours and related consequences. In this view, they are more likely to
A significant and controversial issue within the legal system is the ‘insanity defense’ in which during a criminal trial, the defendant will make a claim that they are not guilty by reason of insanity, or in other words, they have deficient and impaired cognitive and mental capabilities. These mental health problems associated with insanity are caused by psychopathological disorders, which may have led to their dysfunction. What separates this from a regular plead of ‘diminished capacity’ is that a plea of insanity is a full defense rather than just a partial defense (Legal information institute, n.d.). With the diminished capacity defense, the defendant’s mental competence is still the focus, although they are pleading to a lesser crime
One of the main issues with complete and partial defences is that some people can get away with charges because they claim that they have a defence to a case. This means that justice will not be achieved for the victim as the accused does not achieve the punishment they should for a crime. This occurs especially when someone wants to get out of the crime that they have committed and so they ‘fake’ a mental illness. This also means that justice will not be served for the accused as they get to walk free, or with a lesser punishment than necessary. This in turn means that the resources of the court will not be used effectively as people may be in mental facilities that do not need to be there. Likewise this reduces the enforceability of the law as it means that people will not be effectively punished due to their deceit or fake defence.
Roy Blunt, American politician, once said, “People with mental health problems are almost never dangerous. In fact, they are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators. At the same time, mental illness has been the common denominator in one act of mass violence after another.” There is a misconception that mental disorders such as dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia are the same. Today’s society often see all mental disorders as one, however, they are very much different. If one was to say someone with multiple personalities is the same as someone who has hallucinations and/or has delusions, they are incorrect, which is why in specific cases such as schizophrenia, the legal term “not guilty due to mental disorder” should be valid.