The Court Of The Insanity Defense

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The standard for the insanity defense arose in the British courts in 1834 when a woodturner named Daniel M’Naghten shot and killed the secretary of England’s Prime Minister. The insanity defense is a difficult, but occasionally successful defense system in a court of law. The law varies from state to state however, the idea remains the same. The defense allows a small number of defendants to get out of a crime if they are deemed legally insane. Only being approximately 180 years old, the insanity defense allows a defendant to plead not guilty based in their mental state at the time of the crime, the lawyer to run tests to determine their mental state, and a select number of notorious criminals to abstain from being incarcerated. The not…show more content…
Also, a defendant may be forced to remain in the hospital for longer than their jail sentence would have been if their mental illness is severe enough. In cases where a defendant has committed the crimes in question but is clearly mentally ill, a “guilty but mentally ill” verdict is used. The guilty but mentally ill verdict acknowledges when a defendant 's mental illness played a large role in a crime without causing it. A guilty but mentally ill defendant is sentenced in the same way as if the defendant were guilty, then the court decides whether the defendant requires treatment for their mental illness. One criticism of the guilty but mentally ill verdict is that, given the level of mental health resources in prisons and jails, it is not very likely a defendant will actually receive relevant treatment while incarcerated. In all cases, insanity is determined by two different groups of tests: cognitive and volitional. Cognitive impairment is centered around a defendants basic understanding of right and wrong. There is controversy as to whether the legal standard for insanity should be based only on the cognitive impairments or whether volitional impairments should also be allowed (National Paralegal College). Volitional impairment is centered on the defendants ability to control their behavior and avoid committing acts they know to be wrong. An example of a cognitive test is
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