Insanity Defense

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For years, the insanity defense has developed and turned into a difficult but sometime successful defense system in a court of law. The exact law changes from state to state however the main idea remains the same. The insanity defense could apply or be used on a person who is considered legally insane. They must have a severe mental disease or defect and must prove they were at the time of the crime, legally insane. Also said person has to prove they didn’t know the impact, quality or the nature of their act or acts (The Insanity). The insanity defense has been a controversial subject for years and years. One of the main reasons for this controversy is the inability for lawmakers to decide on a solid legal definition of insane. There are countless standards of insane; each court has used different interpretations of the term insane. One of the first serious attempts to define insane legally was in 1843. This occurred due to the M'Naghten case. Daniel M'Naghten was charged with the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Robert Peel. As a paranoid schizophrenic, M'Naghten was found not guilty and had set a rule for the insanity defense. This rule declared it was not right to hold a person legally accountable for unlawful actions committed while afflicted with a mental disorder(The M’Naghten). This disorder must prevent the person from understanding what he or she is doing and must also prevent them from comprehending that their conduct is wrong. Over time this idea was seen as too lenient and not structured enough. About 40 years later, in Alabama Supreme Court, the “irresistible impulse test” was formed. This law said those who wished to plead not guilty by reason of insanity had to demonstrate that they could not control their actions and behaviors when their crimes were committed (A Brief History). On some occasions the defendant does not have to match all of the descriptions of insane to plea insanity. For instance, John Hinckley was the man who tried to


Bibliography: American Civil Liberties Union. "Mentally Ill Offenders Should Not Be Executed." Crime and Criminals. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 21 Nov. 2010. Chiacchia, Kenneth B. "Insanity Defense - Insanity Defense Statistics, Problems with NGRI, Guilty but Mentally Ill Read More: Insanity Defense - Insanity Defense Statistics, Problems with NGRI, Guilty but Mentally Ill." Net Industries, 2010. Web. 1 Nov. 2010. . Google, By. "A Brief History of the Insanity Plea." EzineArticles Submission - Submit Your Best Quality Original Articles For Massive Exposure, Ezine Publishers Get 25 Free Article Reprints. 2010. Web. 1 Nov. 2010. . "Hinckley." LII | Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. . "Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity." Free Legal Forms | Free Legal Documents | Legal Resources. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. . "The "M 'Naghten Rule" - Criminal Law." Criminal Law Center - Criminal Law. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. . Vatz, Richard E. "Mentally Ill Offenders Should Be Held Responsible for Their Actions." Crime and Criminals. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 21 Nov. 2010.

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