insanity defense

insanity defense2016-12-16T02:30:41+00:00

insanity defense

insanity defense image from New Medical Terms

insanity defense


Definition The insanity defense (ID) is an argument that may be made in a court of law that a person should not be convicted of a crime committed during a mental health episode (psychiatric illness or mental handicap), if he lacked the guilty mind (mens rea) by reason of insanity–a term defined as a matter of law–at the time of the act.

The premise is that where there is no mens rea, there can be no criminal responsibility.

The IDis attempted in < 1% of criminal trials in the US, rarely results in acquittal, and may be evoked as an act of desperation by defense attorneys. After its successful use in the 1982 acquittal of the defendant John Hinckley (image of scene at assassination attempt) in the assassination attempt on US President Reagan, the IDfell into disfavour in the USlegal system; it is rarely attempted, only 7% of ± 3 cases per 1000 in NY State where the ID is used, actually go to trial; the remainder result in plea bargains, or are brought before a judge who decides the case.


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