The Insanity Defense : Crazy or Criminal1
The Insanity Defense : Crazy or Criminal
The Insanity Defense : Crazy or Criminal2
When we think of insanity most people would refer to this word as a medical term but in reality it is a legal term. It is not a term used clinically to describe an individual's state of mind unless he or she has committed a serious criminal offense. The claim of a defendant in a criminal prosecution is that he or she was insane when the crime was committed, and therefore should not be held accountable. As William H. Reid said in his article in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, “ The point is not what diagnosis the defendant has, but how it affected his or her ability to do certain things at the time of the allegedly criminal act.” (Journal of Psychiatric Practice, May 2000, p.169, Law and Psychiatry – The Insanity Defense: Bad or Mad or Both?, William H. Reid). Defendants use the insanity defense as a way to attack intent or mens rea and must then provide proof that the time they committed the crime, they were legally insane and could not appreciate the nature of their wrongful act. There are fifty one types of insanity defense because each state including the District of Colombia has its own statute that sets the standard for determining if a defendant is legally insane. In general though the standards fall into two categories. The most significant difference among the different states is who has the burden of proving the presence or absence of legal insanity and which rule is used in determining if the rule is applicable (Journal of Psychiatric Practice, May 2000, p.169, Law and Psychiatry – The Insanity Defense: Bad or Mad or Both?, William H. Reid). About half of the states use the M'Naghten rule and some use the Model Penal Code standard established by the American Law Institute. Kansas, Montana , Idaho and Utah are the only four states who have completely abolished the insanity defense, although Montana still allows a guilty but insane verdict. The Insanity Defense : Crazy or Criminal3
Alabama, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Washington use the M' Naghten Rule and the burden of proof is on the defendant. Alaska, Arizona, Georgia and Missouri use the modified version of the M'Naghten Rule and a guilty but mentally ill or insane verdict is allowed. These states use the Irresistible Impulse test. Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois and Indiana use a modified version of the Model Penal Code Rule and the burden of proof is on the defendant. Florida and New Jersey also use the M'Naghten Rule but the burden of proof is on the state. District of Colombia, Hawaii, Kentucky, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming use the Model Penal Code Rule and the burden of proof is on the defendant. Massachusetts, Michigan, North Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia also use the Model Penal Code Rule but the burden of proof is on the state. New Hampshire is the only state that uses the Durham Standard and the proof is on the defendant (USLegal, Criminal Law Home Defense of Insanity -The Insanity Defense Among the States, http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-procedure/the-insanity-defense-among-the-states.html). When referring to having the burden of proof, the burden of proof is on the state means the prosecution must prove that person's guilt in court in order for there to be a conviction. If the burden of proof is on the defendant than he or she must provide enough evidence to support his or her claim. States that use the M'Naghten rule use a test commonly referred to as the “right/wrong” test. The defendants is then found guilty by reason of insanity. The modified version of the M'Naghten rule includes the use of the irresistible impulse test. This test determines if the person's...
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