insanity defenseJoe Segen2016-12-16T02:30:41+00:00
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 ID is 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 ID fell into disfavour in the US legal 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.