WHAT IS CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY?
Criminal Responsibility, often referred to as insanity, evaluations are an examination of the defendant’s mental state and capacities at the time of the alleged offenses. These evaluations are typically requested when there are concerns the defendant’s alleged criminal behaviors may have been the result of a mental disorder and the defendant was not criminally responsible. Individuals found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect (or insanity) are typically acquitted of their criminal charges. Depending on the nature of the charges and jurisdiction, the defendant may instead be committed to a hospital or other facility pending an evaluation of dangerousness or violence risk. The specific nature of the capacities of concern is dependent upon the jurisdiction in which the evaluation is performed. Expert Psychological Evaluations’ psychologists have experience in performing these evaluations under multiple state and federal statutes.
For the state of Arkansas, per ACA § 5-2-305, the evaluation is focused on five major components: (1) a substantiated diagnosis in the terminology of the American Psychiatric Association's current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual; (2) the sign or symptom of mental disease or defect that led to the opinion on the presence of mental disease or defect; (3) a description of any evidence that the defendant is feigning a sign or symptom of mental disease or defect; (4) the extent, if any, to which the capacity of the defendant to appreciate the criminality of his or her conduct or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of law was impaired at the time of the conduct alleged; and finally (5) a description of the reasoning used by the examiner to support the opinion.
Expert Psychological Evaluations’ psychologists incorporate the relevant legal statutes and case law into criminal responsibility evaluations to ensure accuracy and specificity in response to the referral question. Utilizing empirically-validated psychological testing and in-depth clinical interviewing, each necessary criterion of the referral question is individually considered and explained. Evidence supporting the forensic opinion is provided in detail, and information contradictory to the forensic opinion is discussed and critiqued. Record review and collateral contacts are critical and often pivotal in the formulation of the forensic opinion. Consequently, careful and thoughtful attention is given to these sources of information.
Relevant Case Law
for Criminal Responsibility
AKE v. OKLAHOMA
A capital defendant is entitled to psychiatric evaluation of sanity at the time of the offense due to the Due Process Clause (14th Amendment).
JONES v. U.S.
A civilly committed individual may be hospitalized for longer than the criminal sentence he faces until not insane or dangerous.
DURHAM v. U.S.
The court determined that a defendant is not criminally responsibile if the unlawful act was the product of a mental disease or defect. This led to what is known as the product test.
A defendant can be found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) if he did not know what he was doing or that it was wrong as a result of mental illness.
FOUCHA v. LOUISIANA
If a defendant does not have a mental illness, the defendant cannot be held in a mental institution because of dangerousness.
U.S. v. TORNIERO
A compulsion to gamble or substance abuse does not constitute insanity.
FRENDAK v. U.S.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a trial judge cannot impose an unwanted insanity defense on a competent defendant.