March 24, 2019

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What is Insanity?

March 24, 2019

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What is Insanity?

March 24, 2019

Insanity, often referred to as criminal responsibility, 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.

 

For the state of Arkansas, per ACA § 5-2-328, the evaluation is focused on “whether as the result of a mental disease or defect the defendant at the time of the alleged offense lacked the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his or her conduct or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law.” Texas law, per the Texas Penal Code § 8.01, states the defendant is insane when “at the time of the conduct charged, the actor, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, did not know that his conduct was wrong.” As a third point of comparison, federal law codified at 18 U.S.C. section 17 states the defendant is insane when, “At the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts.” As can be seen, while the general underlying