Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: a Look Into the Insanity Defense

1971 Words8 Pages
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: A Look into the Insanity Defense On Friday, March 3, 1843, the trial of The Queen v. Daniel McNaughton (West, Walk 12) began. The verdict of this trail changed the way the civilized world views the criminally insane. People who were criminally insane went from being viewed as evil and wild beasts to people who could not be held accountable for their actions at the time of the crime they committed. As time progressed, the insanity defense became an acceptable defense and rules were laid forth on how to declare people criminally insane. In this essay I will give the events responsible for the McNaughton trial and explain how it’s proceedings and verdict helped set forth the ground rules for the…show more content…
Dr. Winslow and his associate Dr. Phillips, who both appeared by request of the Queen, concurred with the testimony of Dr. Monro and other doctors who presented similar testimony for the defense. From here the prosecution’s case collapsed and the jury returned quickly rendered a verdict of not guilty on grounds of insanity (Asokan, Hacker 46, Veeder 587, Bennett 290). McNaughton was acquitted of murder but being deemed insane, he was forcibly institutionalized for the rest of his life. This verdict did not sit well with the people. The whole situation was new to the public and with out any set limits for people who could claim insanity the public feared that madmen could now kill with impunity. The London Times quickly expressed its opinion on the issue wit the quote “The judge in his treatment of the madman yields to the decision of the physician, and the physician in his treatment becomes the judge." The Times also felt that physicians have over stepped their boundaries into the providence of the jury (“The Plea of Insanity”, Moran 39). This controversy even managed to strike the interest of Queen Victoria, who sent Sir Robert Peel a letter urged him to “require the judges to follow the law.” On June 19, 1843, a hearing was held at the House of Lords and all common-law judges were

More about Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: a Look Into the Insanity Defense

Open Document