You may have seen somebody claiming not guilty by reason of insanity on television shows or on movies. However, even though these crime shows make it look easy, using this defense is not an easy task whatsoever. Today, only about 1% of all court cases involve the insanity defense, and it is only successful in an astounding 26% of these cases. But what is the insanity defense and what qualifies you for this defense?
The Insanity Defense Explained
In order to use the insanity defense, you must be able to show the court that you should not be criminally liable for breaking the law because you were qualified as “insane” when the crime occurred. Jurisdictions handle insanity claims very differently because, of course, the lines get blurred on what is “insane” and what isn’t. Professionals are typically versed with the job of finding if a defendant was able to distinguish right from wrong when the offense took place.
Defendants will usually have to have a complete mental evaluation as a first step in the insanity defense. A psychologist could take the stand and testify about the state of mind at the time of the offense. They may even be able to make a case of temporary insanity, which is when a criminal acted out of insanity when they committed the crime, but they are sane now. These cases can be even more difficult to prove.
The Qualifications of a Mental Disease or Defect
Really, any mental condition could serve as a basis for an insanity defense, however, this is not usually how it plays out. Usually, certain conditions are excluded such as: voluntary intoxication, kleptomania, pyromania, and pedophilia. They appear to have no psychological basis, so they don’t hold in the courtroom. Usually the mental illnesses that qualify are those that affect a person’s ability to control their behavior such as psychosis, severe depression, mania, or PTSD. If you want to claim an insanity defense but aren’t sure where to turn, we may be able to help. Call us today at The Law Office of Peter Blair for more information on how we can help you.