All criminal cases are unique, each requiring an individualized approach to defense tailored around the facts surrounding the case. While there are several defenses available to defendants, one of the most misunderstood is the “insanity defense.” Contrary to popular belief, a successful insanity defense does not mean the defendant will go free and escape any form of punishment.
When a defendant chooses to use an insanity defense, he or she is essentially arguing that there is no criminal responsibility for the actions under question. In other words, a plea of insanity is the same as asserting a defendant is not guilty due to his or her mental capacity. While the media and cinema has made this defense famous, it is rarely used in the real life world of the law.
In order for an insanity plea to be viable, the defense must provide “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant was unable to understand his or her actions were wrongful. This means that it is not enough to simply state that the defendant was insane at the time of the alleged crime. The defense team is required to present actual evidence of a severe mental defect or disease. Typically, this means presenting mental health records, doctor depositions and other documentation supporting the defendant’s assertions.
As you might imagine, these requirements can make it difficult for a defense based on insanity to reign victorious. Further, even if the defense is successful, the defendant will almost certainly be remanded to a psychiatric facility instead of being set free. While an insanity defense does have an important place within the justice system, it should not be entered into lightly under any circumstances.
Please visit the website of criminal defense attorney, Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. for additional information about building a defense in the state of Maryland.