The Insanity Defense

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					    The Insanity Defense

           Ch 4 Criminal Law

Foundations of Criminal Justice and Public
            The Insanity Defense
• Insanity is a legal definition…not a medical term.
• Insanity in this case refers to the ability of one to
  stand trial for his or her actions as well as their
  culpability for their actions.
    History of the Insanity Defense
• This defense didn’t exist prior to the 1800’s
• Historically, insane people were punished for their
  crimes in the same way a sane person would be.
• This changed in 1844 with the M’Naghten
  (McNaughten) case in Scotland
           The M’Naghten Case
• Daniel M’Naghten was a woodworker from
• He attempted to kill the British Prime Minister,
  Sir Robert Peel
• M’Naghten mistook Peel’s secretary, Edward
  Drummond as Peel and killed him
           The M’Naghten Case
• Daniel M’Naghten’s defense attorneys argued that
  he suffered from delusions that the ruling party in
  Britain, the Tory Party, was trying to kill him and
  in self defense he thought he had to kill the Prime
               The M’Naghten Case
• Medical testimony supported the fact that M’Naghten did suffer
  from some sort of delusion and that he did not know what he was
  doing at the time.
• The jury agreed with this assertion and the M’Naghten Rule was
• House of Lords later ruled: “To establish a defense on the
  ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of
  committing of the act, the party accused was laboring under such a
  defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the
  nature and quality of the act that he was doing, or, if he did know
  it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong”
• M’Naghten committed to Bedlam, eventually died in another
  hospital after decades of “treatment”
            The M’Naghten Rule
• A person is not guilty of a crime if, at the time of
  the crime, the person didn’t either know what
  he/she was doing or didn’t know that what he/she
  was doing was illegal.
• The Inability to Distinguish Between Right and
  Wrong Must be the Cause of Some Mental
  Defect or Disability.
• Georgia follows this precedent
Consequences of the Insanity Defense
• It isn’t a Get Out of Jail Free Card
• Generally, those who successfully use the Insanity
  Defense serve longer sentences than they would
  have otherwise
  • This is due to the fact that few psychiatrists are willing
    to call any potential criminal cured.
 American Law Institute Defines Insanity
• In 1955, the ALI tried to define insanity.
• A person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the
  time of such conduct as a result of mental disease or
  defect he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate
  the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his
  conduct to the requirements of the law
• Changes from before
   • Change implication of “full” (did not know) to “substantial”
   • Change “know” to “appreciate”
   • Change “criminality” to “wrongfulness”
   • Essentially eliminated repeated acts in and of themselves (e.g.,
              “Irresistable Impulse”
• The defendant is not legally responsible:
   • if by reason of the duress of mental disease he had so far lost
     the power to choose between right and wrong, and to avoid
     doing the act in question that his free agency was destroyed
   • act the product of mental disease solely
   • People know what they are doing is wrong but cannot stop
     themselves (the Lorena Bobbit case is an example)
• Problem: how do you distinguish an “irresistable
  impulse” from an “impulse not resisted”?
     Three Variations on Irresistable
• (l) Defendant 'acted from an irresistible and
  uncontrollable impulse';
• (2) Defendant 'lost the power to choose between the right
  and wrong, and to avoid doing the act in question, as that
  his free agency was at the time destroyed';
• (3) Defendant's 'will . . . has been otherwise than
  voluntarily so completely destroyed that his actions are
  not subject to it, but are beyond his control.'
                      Durham Rule
• The Durham Rule
   • 1871 decision in New Hampshire adopted in 1954
   • “A person is not criminally responsible for his/her behavior if
     the person’s illegal actions were the result of some mental
     disease or defect.”
   • Source of the “product test”
   • simply that “an accused is not criminally responsible if his
     unlawful act was the product of a mental disease or defect”
• Problems:
   • what is a “product”? (i.e., what is the causative chain?)
   • Which mental diseases qualify?
• Case eventually overturned; now of historical significance only
          Other Insanity Defenses
• Guilty but Mentally Ill (GBMI)
  • A person can be held responsible for a specific
    criminal act even though a degree of mental
    incompetence may be present. There is a definite
    difference between mental illness and insanity.
• Temporary Insanity
  • Widely Used in the 1940’s -50’s
  • The defendant is not guilty of the criminal act by
    virtue of being insane at the time, but is now sane and
    can’t undergo treatment. Rarely can be used today.
       Unsuccessful Insanity Pleas
•   Kip Kinkel, l7, shot 29 people in an Oregon school rampage in 1998; heard
    “command” voices; abandoned insanity defense, got 25+ years
•   David Berkowitz, “Son of Sam” killings NYC, sentenced to 365 years in jail
•   Ted Bundy; US serial killer l974-l978; responsible for an estimated 40 murders;
    executed in FL electric chair
•   Sirhan Sirhan: murdered Robert Kennedy l968; convicted, sentenced to death;
    commuted to life in prison
•   Henry Lee Lucas; serial murderer in FL l982
•   Charles Manson; cult leader; sentenced to death; CA suspends death penalty later
•   John Wayne Gacy, used DID defense; convicted of 33 murders in l980; executed
•   Ted Kaczynski, Unabomber, thought to be suffering from paranoid
    schizophrenia; 4 consecutive life sentences
•   Jeffrey Dahmer; necrophilia, cannibalism, l60-page rambling confession;
    convicted l992, killed in prison l994
                     A notable exception
• Andrea Yates: drowned children in bathtub; history of postpartum depression, convicted
  in 2003; conviction overturned on appeal, was found NGRI in second trial
    Issues in Insanity Defense

• All variations require mental disease or defect
• Wrong but morally justified – wrongfulness can be
  interpreted as moral, not criminal, only with specific
  facts (in some jurisdictions)
• Law does not distinguish conscious from unconscious
• Meaning of the terms “know” and “wrong”
• Irresistable Impluse: “officer at the elbow test”
• Measures of criminal responsibility: R-CRAS
             Burden of Proof
• One-third of states require prosecution to prove
  sanity “beyond reasonable doubt” (90-95%)
• Most remaining states require defendant to
  prove insanity by “preponderance of evidence”
• AZ and federal courts: defendant must prove
  sanity by “clear and convincing” evidence
Basic Elements of Crime Behavior Relevant to
              Insanity Defense

    • physical conduct of crime (“actus reus”)
    • mental state (level of intent) associated with the
      crime (“mens rea”)
    • to convice beyond reasonable doubt, state must
      prove that the defendant committed the actus
      reus with the requisite mens rea for that crime
        Defenses Related to Sanity
• Automatism Defense
  • acts committed “involuntarily”
  • this is different from sanity
     • automatons are “unaware” (but will be held responsible if ailment
       had previously existed and steps were not taken to prevent or
       manage it)
     • prosecution bears burden of negating automatism beyond
       reasonable doubt
     • no mental disease or defect required
     Defenses Related to Sanity
• Diminished Capacity
   • mental state essentially defined culpability; planning a crime
     involves more intent than accidentally committing one
   • specific vs. general intent
   • Mens Rea components:
       •   Purpose: conscious intent
       •   Knowledge: awareness, but not conscious intent
       •   Recklessness: disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk
       •   Negligence: not aware of a risk, but should have been aware
           Other Insanity Defenses
• Intoxication - generally not viewed positively by the
  courts unless accidental