The Insanity defense first came into England’s radar when Daniel McNaughton, who attempted to murder, Prime Minister Robert Peel. McNaughton Rule became a common law test to determine criminal liability in relation to mentally disturbed defendants. Another notable case is that of Reagan, John Hinckley who in 1981 attempted to assassinate the president.
The insanity defense is not covered as its own constitutional right, although it faults under the due process clause in the 5th and 14th amendments. The states define their own elements for what constitutes insanity, using the common law as a guideline. Mens rea—Latin for the “guilty mind” — is one of the necessary elements for insanity. If found incompetent, the person is usually charged to...
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