CULPABLE

MENTAL STATE

WHAT IS A CULPABLE MENTAL STATE?

An evaluation for culpable mental state (or diminished capacity) is intended to assess for the capacity, at the time of the alleged offense(s), of the defendant to have the culpable mental state that is required to establish an element of the offense charged. Certain criminal charges (i.e. First Degree Murder) require a specific level of intent (e.g., "purposeful" or "knowingly" depending on jurisdiction and circumstances of the offense). An individual’s mental state may become impacted by a mental disease or defect, impairing their capacity to form the necessary level of intent for the crime charged. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether the defendant had the capacity to form that level of intent. The process of conducting this evaluation is similar to that described under Criminal Responsibility with a more specific focus on the levels of intent described below. Although definitions of these levels differ by jurisdiction, they are defined for Arkansas in ACA § 5-2-202.

 

Levels of intent are defined as follows:

(1) "Purposely." A person acts purposely with respect to his or her conduct or a result of his or her conduct when it is the person's conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause the result;

 

(2) "Knowingly." A person acts knowingly with respect to: (A) The person's conduct or the attendant circumstances when he or she is aware that his or her conduct is of that nature or that the attendant circumstances exist; or (B) A result of the person's conduct when he or she is aware that it is practically certain that his or her conduct will cause the result;

 

(3) "Recklessly." (A) A person acts recklessly with respect to attendant circumstances or a result of his or her conduct when the person consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the attendant circumstances exist or the result will occur. (B) The risk must be of a nature and degree that disregard of the risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the actor's situation; and

 

(4) "Negligently." (A) A person acts negligently with respect to attendant circumstances or a result of his or her conduct when the person should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the attendant circumstances exist or the result will occur. (B) The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the actor's failure to perceive the risk involves a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the actor's situation considering the nature and purpose of the actor's conduct and the circumstances known to the actor.

Relevant Case Law

for Culpable Mental State

IBN-TAMAS v. U.S.

Expert testimony on battered wife syndrome should not be included if the potential value is greater than the prejudicial impact on the jury.

MONTANA v. EGELHOFF

Voluntary intoxication cannot be considered when determining the mental state of an individual at the time of an offense.

PEOPLE v. SAILLE
Voluntary intoxication cannot be used as a defense to allow reduction of a murder charge to manslaughter.