What if a Crime was Committed While Someone was Experiencing Symptoms of Mental Illness?

Did you know that sanity and insanity can make a huge difference in a court hearing? Insanity is defined as: “a state of derangement which manifests as a lack of understanding or incapacitated mind.” If you or someone you love has a mental illness and as a result is unable to make sound decisions, they may be entitled to a not guilty by reason of insanity defense.

Sometimes, people who commit a crime are unable to understand what they were doing was wrong when they committed the act. If this is the case, that person may have a legal defense to the crime they are being accused of. This is called a “not guilty by reason of insanity defense.” This defense can be used to have charges dropped and to avoid the possibility of a jail or prison punishment.

The M'Naghten Rule

Since the 1800s, the M'Naghten Rule has served to help mentally ill people avoid imprisonment under certain circumstances. During an insanity trial, a court needs to do three things: 1) determine whether the defendant suffers from a diagnosed mental illness, 2) decide whether or not the defendant understood the consequences of his or her actions, and 3) knew that their actions were wrong.

If a court finds that a mentally ill defendant did not understand their actions, or did not know that their actions were morally wrong, that individual can avoid criminal punishment by submitting an NGI plea.

The Impact of an NGI on Criminal Charges

If someone is found to be not guilty by reason of insanity, then they will be acquitted of the charges. The defendant will not be placed in jail or prison, but instead would most likely be sent to a state mental hospital until doctors determine it is safe for that person to rejoin the community. Additionally, a defendant found to be not guilty because of insanity will not have a criminal conviction for the alleged offense.

Submitting an NGI plea is a very serious decision, and it’s essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side to fight for the defendant’s rights. Finding a lawyer who understands the ins and outs of mental health cases is crucial.

If you or someone you love has been criminally charged but may have been mentally unstable,contact our offices today. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.