How The Insanity Defense Is Used And Controlled Within The Legal System

2496 Words Aug 9th, 2014 10 Pages
There is a defense within the legal system that has stirred up controversy for decades and that is how the insanity defense is used and controlled within the legal system. Some argue that the legal definition needs to be revamped and others argue that it simply can’t be proven legally without jeopardizing the integrity of the legal system. The criteria that has to be met in order to successfully negotiate this type of plea has been studied from as early as the 1880’s when Charles Julius Guiteau, a well-known attorney shot and killed President Garfield (Charles, 2014). He claimed that he was legally insane at the time of the shooting and used this as his defense, but medically he was a normal functioning person. While his defense did not stand up at trail and he was executed for his crime it did raise questions within the legal and medical professions as to the definition of insanity as a defense. Some of the important questions raised are that of ethical, legal, medical, accountability and responsibility for criminal acts that have been debated and pondered for a long time (Borum & Fulero, 1999). Because of these questions there needed to be a way to determine if a person was in fact insane at the time they had committed a crime. The challenge is proving if they were insane and did not understand that the crime they were committing was illegal. An example, would be if a person killed someone and some type of disease of the mind or mental impairment hindered them from…

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