According to Psychology Today (2012), the insanity defense is defined as an individual who is being charged of a crime that can recognize that he or she committed the crime, but argues that they are not responsible for it because of their mental breakdown during the crime, by pleading "not guilty by reason of insanity.” While this defense is considered to be a legal strategy, it can also be seen as an indication of what society may believe; “it reflects society 's belief that the law should not
The insanity defense has been quite a controversial subject. It has been used by some of the most baleful criminals in history. Its controversy derives from the belief that people who plead insanity are excused from the fault of their crimes. Surprisingly however, this defense is rarely used because of how hard it is to prove legal insanity. Less than one percent of criminals choose to plead insanity and of those who choose to plead insanity the success is quite low at 25 percent.( Rolf. p. 2) This defense has been around for centuries. It can be dated back to the 14th century. Kings were willing to pardon crimes to those who were deemed “mad”. By the 18th century the “ wild beast” test was developed by some English courts. However, the
"Not Guilty, By reason of Insanity!" These words have stung the ears of many courtroom observers, especially the families and friends of victims whose lives were snuffed out by a so-called 'insane' assailant. While there are indeed many insane people running around the streets today, I feel that many persons who use the temporary insanity defense are more conniving than insane. Also, being an inexact science, the psychiatric community often offers up differing opinions as to any particular individual's sanity. Furthermore, money or lack thereof can play a major role in the success or failure of an insanity defense. The temporary insanity defense should therefore be abolished, especially for felony offenses such as murder.
When the Durham case arose the insanity test was changed. Judge David Baezelon stated that, "an accused is not criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or mental defect." (Mental Health Law and the US Judicial System, pg 4) This was the foundation for the new insanity test. Baezelon worked with psychologists and psychiatrists in developing the new test and in 1962 the "Durham Rule" was founded. It was said to be better than the M'Naghten rule in that it included both cognition and volitional impairment. The M'Naghten rule didn't include volitional impairment, which is an irresistible impulse while cognition impairment is not understanding the quality of the act. The federal courts eventually rejected the Durham rule because its definition was too broad. Alcoholics, compulsive gamblers and drug addicts had successfully used the defense to defeat a wide variety of crimes.
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 a few different types of insanity pleas in the court of law; however, just because someone pleads insane will try actually be found insane. About half of the states follow the "M 'Naughten" rule, based on the 1843 British case of Daniel M 'Naughten, a deranged woodcutter who attempted to assassinate the prime minister. He was acquitted, and the resulting standard is still used in 26 states in the U.S.: A defendant may be found not guilty by reason of insanity if "at the time of committing the act, he was laboring under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong." (emphasis added) This test
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 word insanity is used by a defender in criminal prosecution to avoid liability for the commission of a crime by using a mental illness as a justification. Insanity is the mental state of not being able to distinguish fantasy from reality, lack of conduct affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior (Lilienfeld 2009). In the article, Rethinking the Revolving Door Dereck Denckla argues that “while the number of people with mental illness in state psychiatric hospitals has decreased precipitously over the last thirty years, the number of mentally-ill people in jails and prisons has steadily increased (Denckla 2001).” This is because psychiatrists are leaving there patients unattended letting them cause damage to innocent people. However, threw out the years defendants have gotten away with insanity defense and delinquents now want to use this form of excuse as well. Insanity defense has made it difficult for the courts to determine an answer since they will need sufficient evidence to determine whether the defendant is guilty or freed because of psychological disorder. Cases like these should be taken to another level of
The Insanity Defense is used in criminal cases in which the defendant argues that due to their mental state, such as uncontrollable behavior during the time of the crime, they should not be sentenced, and instead should receive medical treatment. Additionally, if the defendant does not have the mental competency to understand the wrongfulness of the crime because of their mental illness, they should not be charged. If the defense is successful, in lieu of detainment, the defendant is sent to a secure psychiatric facility to receive treatment until deemed “sane” (Gerber 2-4.) The Insanity Defense protects the inalienable right of being of being tried fairly under the law. However, the defense faces great opposition. There are critics who call
Well in this type of criminal trial the person must be evaluated and get a testimony from a forensic psychiatrists or forensic psychologist. They will have to decide if the person was in fact unable to comprehend the difference between right and wrong actions at the time the crime occurred (Giannetakis, P). There are also legal tests that determine the person’s insanity in able to granted them the insanity. Some of the tests that determine insanity include are the Irresistible Impulse test, the Model Penal Code test, the Durham Rule, and the M 'Naghten Rule. For the Model Penal Code test the person but be diagnosed with a relevant mental disorder and at the time of the incident was unable to either: comprehend and
Over the years, academics have identified uncertainity in the insanity defence. First, the out-dated M’Naghten rules cover crimes including non-mental illnesses like in the case of Kemp (1957) and also the epilepsy, diabetes and sleepwalking because the English courts accept that these defendants (D) are of unsound mind when they are not. This mean that the insanity defence is weak and in need of reform.
Forensic psychology has had a lot of debates on the insanity defense. This paper serves as a review to explain why the article I’m reviewing relates to the insanity defense. The article I’m reviewing is called Psychosis and Substance Use: Implications for Conditional Release Readiness Evaluations.
As long as there have been people who could be acquitted for a crime because of their mental state there has been a need to prove it, and more assuredly is more serious cases. A witness without expertise may confirm or deny what they believe a person, which is commonly people who know the defendant on a more personal level. Then there is the expert witness who either was a service provider to the defendant or was hired by them or the prosecution has brought them in for their assessment and opinion. There have been a few instances that stand out and have shaped the course of history regarding the mental insanity defense in the way a person must fit into a definition of mental insanity to be considered unable to understand what they have
The problem with this defense is that insanity here is either examined from a legal angle or a psychoanalytical one which involves talking to people and having them take tests. There is however, no scientific proof confirming the causal relationship between mental illness and criminal behavior based on a deeper neurological working of the brain sciences. The psychiatrist finds himself/herself in a double bind where with no clear medical definition of mental illness, he/she must answer questions of legal insanity- beliefs of human rationality, and free will instead of basing it on more concrete scientific facts. Let me use a case study to elaborate my argument that law in this country continues to regard insanity as a moral and legal matter rather than ones based on scientific analysis.
In criminal cases where an insanity defense is used, the defense must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not responsible for his or her actions during a mental health breakdown. There are two forms of an insanity defense, cognitive and volitional. In order for an individual to meet the requirements for cognitive insanity it must be proven that the defendant had to be so impaired by a mental disease at the time of the act that they did not know the nature of what they were doing. If they are fully aware of their actions, one must prove that they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong. Volitional insanity, also known as irresistible impulse, states that the defendant is able to differentiate between right or wrong at the time, but suffered from a mental disease that made them unable to control themselves. Volitional insanity is common in crimes of vengeance, where very few states allow the use of this defense. The insanity defense should not be confused with incompetency. In incompetency cases, the individual is not able to understand the nature and consequences of the case, nor adequately able to help an attorney with his or her defense. The insanity defense reflects the approach that an individual who can’t acknowledge the consequences of their actions should not be punished for the crime. In most jurisdictions a professional is bought in to determine if the defendant was not able to differentiate between right or wrong at the time of the