Insanity defense as a reason to not be guilty of a charge is — typically used in criminal cases where the person is mentally incapacitated to be held criminally liable. People who are found to be insane are placed indefinitely in a mental health treatment facility.

Successful insanity pleas are convicted with treatment rather than imprisonment. However, the insanity defense can have long term results than imprisonment.

What are the legal measures for insanity?

Different states have their own standards in determining that a defendant is really insane, thus not responsible for the crime he committed. In general, the measures for insanity falls into two categories:

  • “The Rule of M’Naughten” also referred as The Right/Wrong Test: If the act of crime was committed under the state of a diseased mind which does not know the nature or quality of the action – or even if he knows – he does not know that it was wrong. Some states have modified this rule which includes irresistible impulse as an insanity defense – that stops the perpetrator from doing an act that he knows is wrong.
  • “The American Law Institute”: The accused person is not held guilty for the crime committed if at the time the act was conducted was under a state of mind — wherein he lacks the capacity to grasp the graveness of his wrongdoing. This rule was said to be more lenient than the M’Naughten Rule.

How often does an Insanity Defense succeed? How frequent is it petitioned? In what type of cases?

This type of defense is not usually raised. For the record, it is only raised with 1% on felony cases. In the study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health found out that only 1% of cases with an insanity defense plea – only 1 out of 4 was successful. 90% of the defendants were found mentally ill. Half of the cases that pleaded for the insanity defense were indicted as violent crimes and 15% was murder cases.

What is Guilty But Mentally Ill (GBMI)?

Guilty But Mentally Ill plea is invoked in cases where the perpetrator has positively committed the crime but is obviously mentally ill. This is an alternative plea for defendants that were found mentally ill but not severe – which in turn does not relieve them from their criminal liabilities.

The court will determine the extent of treatment for a defendant that was sentenced with GBMI. once found healed or cured, he shall serve his conviction unlike with Insanity Defense – wherein the perpetrator is released from the mental institution once found cured and harmless.

Hopefully, this has helped you understand what the insanity defense is. If you need further legal assistance, call us now.