Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGI)

What Is an NGI Defense?

Criminal allegations in Southern California require thorough investigation and aggressive legal representation. This is particularly true when an arrest and accusation is made for an individual pleading insanity (also referred to as the M'Naghten rule)

An insanity plea, or NGI plea, is generally entered into when the defense contends that an accused defendant was criminally insane at the time of the act.

California's insanity defense considers an individual legally insane if:

  • They did not understand the nature of their crime, or
  • They did not understand the crime to be morally wrong (inability to distinguish right from wrong)

If a criminal defendant is NGI then they can actually be found not guilty of the charges against them.

What Happens After a Successful NGI Defense?

A successful NGI defense means that defendant will not be incarcerated in a jail or prison, but rather will spend time in a state mental hospital until doctors determine their sanity has been restored. Additionally, a defendant found to be not guilty by reason of insanity will not have a criminal conviction for the alleged offense on their record.

Sanity hearings in the mental health courts will require that you have strong legal defense on your side; defense such as that which can be found from a mental health attorney at Lessem & Newstat, LLP.

Proving Insanity as a Defense

Pleading not guilty by reason of insanity is entirely different from a regular plea of not guilty; it is even significantly different from a plea of guilty in the regular court system. This type of plea requires that a separate court hearing be set to determine the defendant's sanity, aside from the court hearing that may be invoked to address the actual criminal offense that took place.

The burden of proving that a defendant is legally insane is also on the defendant rather than the prosecutor, which is different from "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard that prosecutors must meet in typical criminal cases.

If mental incapacitation such as insanity can be proven, then a sentence of not guilty will be issued to the accused defendant. However, this does not mean that no repercussions will ensue; rather, treatment vs. jail options will likely be pursued by your lawyer and the professionals attending to your case.

Not Guilty by Insanity vs Competency to Stand Trial

It is important that criminally accused defendants understand the difference between pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity and the inability to attend courtroom hearings due to insanity at the time of trial.

The issues may be two very separate problems; if a person's mental capacity is temporarily impaired then a court trial date can be postponed . However, if a person's sanity was compromised at the time in which they committed a crime, but that person is now competent to stand trial, then court proceedings will continue and an NGI plea could be entered.

We've Got Your Back

No matter what the conditions of your case may be, there should be no question as to the benefit you will receive from employing legal support from an attorney at our firm. With hundreds of court case dismissals and over 50 years of combined courtroom experience, there is almost nothing that our team of defense lawyers has not seen or represented. We have built our practice around the belief that the best outcomes are usually achieved when the prosecution knows that the defense is both ready and willing to pursue the matter at the trial level. Therefore, we are prepared to defend our all the way to trial if necessary.

From regions as north as Santa Barbara and as south as Orange County, we are here to legally represent the mentally ill in criminal cases throughout Southern California.

Do not hesitate to contact a mental health lawyer if you are considering pleading not guilty by insanity in one of the state's mental health courts.

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