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Articles Tagged with insanity defense

The police have begun to move on a murder that occurred in 1998 after DNA evidence linked two men to the crime scene. The one man agreed to testify against the other and now, the defense team representing the other man has moved to gain access to the witness and co-conspirator’s medical history. The idea is to suggest that the defendant lacked the ability to remember that he committed a murder in 1998 or any of the details concerning that murder. In other words, they want to suggest that the individual is so unreliable, their testimony should not be admissible in court.

The court has agreed to give the defense access to the witness’s medical records. From this, they will be able to build a defense that the witness is either simply saying what the police want to hear in exchange for testimony against the other defendant and his ability to recall details from such a long time ago is compromised by psychiatric illness and intervention.

Is This Tactic Likely to be Successful?

A Chicago area man is facing multiple felonies in Michigan after he showed up at a rural parochial school for unknown reasons. Police were called to the school, but the man had already left. He was found later at a local McDonald’s. Police confronted the man and asked for identification. The man said his ID was in his vehicle, but when he got back inside, he drove his car directly into the police SUV and drove off. Eventually, the vehicle skidded off the road and the driver abandoned it. The suspect took off on foot where he was eventually apprehended. He is now facing multiple felonies related to assault with a vehicle on an officer. He is facing a separate charge of driving with an altered or forged driver’s license.

No one, however, knows why the man was in rural Michigan at the time. The man has no ties to the local community and appears to be entirely out of sorts with his environment. Nonetheless, he did use a motor vehicle to strike a police vehicle with a police officer inside it. So, despite the fact that he may be fighting off an undiagnosed mental illness, he will face consequences for those actions.

What are his chances of pursuing an insanity defense?

ehimetalor-unuabona-270319-unsplash-copy-300x199Insanity pleas are notorious because they are often dramatized in television shows and movies. In the real world, they are very difficult to prove.

There are two things you should understand about an insanity plea, and these things are often confused. Before there is a trial, the judge will need to determine whether or not you are fit to stand trial. That requires that you understand the charges against you and are able to participate in your own defense. If you cannot face your charges, you are remanded to the care of a psychiatric facility until they stabilize you enough so that you can stand trial for the crimes with which you are charged.

That is completely different from an insanity plea. If you plead insanity, the judge has already ruled that you can stand trial for your crime, but as a defense, you are saying you were not in your right mind when you committed the offense and should, therefore, not be held responsible for it. It is very difficult to prove because the criteria for proof is very high. Sometimes, it works.

dmitry-ratushny-64773-copy-300x199The insanity defense is one of the oldest defenses in the book. Recently, it was used by Elzbieta Plackowska. She was accused of stabbing her son (5) and daughter (7) to death in 2012. The court rejected her defense. It found her guilty and sentenced her to life without parole. The legislation on this has specific requirements.

A mother killing her own young children is an unusual crime. But, that does not automatically mean it can only occur because someone is insane. Illinois has strict requirements for accepting this kind of defense. They include a mental assessment by a competent person with the right qualifications and experience.

Key Thing to Consider for Review in the Insanity Defense

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The Chicago Tribune reports that a 22-year-old schizophrenic man was recently charged with murdering his cousin in Cook County. Supposedly the defendant was standing on the street with his cousin and a few other people when the group started making fun of the defendant for being mentally slow. Allegedly, the defendant responded by firing a semi-automatic handgun into his cousin’s neck, chin, and chest. The cousin died shortly after and now the shooter is charged with murder. While there are several ways to defend against a murder charge, arguing insanity may be a viable defense strategy for this particular defendant.

Illinois’ Insanity Defense

In Illinois, a person can not be held criminally responsible for their conduct if a mental disease or mental defect caused that person to lack the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his or her conduct, according to our state’s Criminal Code (720 ILCS 5/6-2). In other words, if a mental defect caused you to not appreciate the criminality of what you were doing while you were committing the crime, then the legal defense of insanity is available to you. Illinois’ insanity defense statute also notes that if a defendant was mentally ill at the time of the crime, but was not insane, then that defendant is still liable for his or her criminal act as it is possible to be found guilty but mentally ill in Illinois. However, in order to successfully claim the insanity defense, the defendant has the burden of providing clear and convincing evidence sufficient to prove that he or she was insane when the crime was committed and, therefore, is not guilty by reason of insanity.

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