This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Insanity Defense Essay

3174 words - 13 pages

The Insanity Defense

The insanity defense refers to that branch of the concept of insanity which defines the extent to which men accused of crimes may be relieved of criminal responsibility by virtue of mental disease. The terms of such a defense are to be found in the instructions presented by the trial judge to the jury at the close of a case. These instructions can be drawn from any of several rules used in the determination of mental illness. The final determination of mental illness rests solely on the jury who uses information drawn from the testimony of "expert" witnesses, usually professionals in the field of psychology. The net result of such a determination places an individual ...view middle of the document...

To scientists theories are a way of life, but applied to the concept of law theories become somewhat dangerous. By applying a loose theory such as mental illness to law we are in essence throwing the proverbial "monkey wrench" into the wheels of justice.
At the center of the legal use of insanity lies the mens rea. Every crime involves a physical act, or actus Reus, and a mental act, or mens rea, the non-physical cause of behavior. The mens rea is the mental element required for a crime, and if absent excuses the defendant from criminal responsibility and punishment. The difficulty here lies in analyzing the mens rea. In order to do this lawyers apply one of several rules used by psychologists; these rules range from the Irresistible Impulse Test to the M'Naghten Rule. Each of these rules approach mental illness/capacity in a different way and in my opinion each falls short of actual proof. I will discuss each in detail. The M'Naghten Rule the M'Naghten Rule, also known as the right-wrong test, arose in 1843 during the trial of Daniel M'Naghten who argued that he was not criminally responsible for his actions because he suffered from delusions at the time of the killing. The M'Naghten Rule reads: A defendant may be excused from criminal responsibility if at the time of the commission of the act the party accused was laboring under such a defect of reason, from a disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and the quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know that he was doing what was wrong. Thus, according to the rule, a person is basically insane if he or she is unable to distinguish between right and wrong as a result of some mental disability. Criticism of the M'Naghten Rule has come from both legal and medical professions. Many criticize that the test is unsound in its view of human psychology.
Psychiatry, it is argued, views the human personality as an integrated entity, not divisible into separate compartments of reason, emotion, or volition. Additionally, the test is criticized for defining responsibility solely in terms of cognition. While cognitive symptoms may reveal disorder, they alone are not sufficient to give an adequate picture of such a disorder or determine responsibility. Also, it has been shown that individuals deemed insane by psychologists have possessed the ability to differentiate right from wrong. I believe that the major weakness of this test, however, lies in the fact that courts are unable to make clear determinations of terms such as disease of the mind, know, and the nature and quality of the act. The Irresistible Impulse Test This rule excludes from criminal responsibility a person whose mental disease makes it impossible to control personal conduct. Unlike the M'Naghten Rule, the criminal may be able to distinguish between right and wrong, but may be unable to exercise self-control because of a disabling mental condition. Normally this test is combined with the M'Naghten Rule....

Other Papers Like The Insanity Defense

Criminal Defense Case Analysis

1044 words - 5 pages insanity in a criminal trial. The insanity defense deal with a defendant charged with a criminal act, which the culprit suffers from mental deficiency when committing the crime. This defense is base on if the culprit was in sane when they committed the alleged act. On the other hand, the individual did not know the consequence of the crime. In this situation, the defendant is not liable for the crime. When an individual use the insanity plea they must

Where Does the Law Stop Essay

2760 words - 12 pages Melissa Maitland Professor Hubert American Government 23 November 2015 Where Does the Law Stop For years the insanity defense has turned into a difficult defense system in the court of law. The exact law changes from state to state, but the main idea remains the same. The insanity defense could apply and be used on an individual who is considered legally insane. The individual must have a severe mental disease or defect, their lawyer

A Matter over Mind Article Psy 270

570 words - 3 pages A Matter over Mind article PSY 270 Kelli Remmel * What is the difference between mental illness and insanity? (Hint: What is the important second prong of the McNaughten rule?) M'Naghten’s second prong relates to a person’s understanding of right and wrong. A person must prove they suffered so severely from a mental disease or disability that they did not know the gravity of what they were doing, or whether it was right or wrong at the

Analysis of a Rose for Emily

813 words - 4 pages really love someone such that you contemplate about killing them or finding all possible means to keep them in your life. The future and its outcome at this moment she did not consider except fulfilling the desires of her heart and holding to the person her lover. C. Emily was insane. The insanity defense generally requires that, at the time of the offense, the defendant, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate that

Criminal Defense Case Analysis

1115 words - 5 pages the police interview, Andrea Yates confessed to killing her children because she considered herself an awful mother, therefore her children were doomed to go to hell. She believed that by murdering them, she would save them (Sweetingham, 2007). On July of 2001, Mrs. Yates is charged with two counts of capital murder; she pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. During trial, Andrea Yates was legally represented by criminal defense attorney

Nursing Homework

1337 words - 6 pages competency is an issue, a request by the attorney results in a court-ordered evaluation to ask for evaluation of a person’s competency to stand trial. It relates to the present mental condition of defendants and their current ability to make a defense in court. o. insanity defense x. Relates to the state of the mind at the time of the offense. The concept comes from legal doctrine of mens rea; for the person to be found

Ciminal Essay

1662 words - 7 pages by premeditation and the defendant’s final decision to act upon this intent can occur as instantaneously as successive thoughts [State v. Snowden, supra] With regard to defenses that may be raised when considering murder in the first or second degree, it should be noted that voluntary intoxication is never a defense in the sense that it invokes a defense doctrine (like insanity) unrelated to the elements of the charged offense. However, it may

Jefferey Dahmer

605 words - 3 pages him not to release his son until he received proper psychiatric treatment. On July 13, 1992 Jeffrey Dahmer went against his lawyer’s words and pleaded guilty but insane. His lawyer was left in an awkward state, he would have to completely turn around his defense case to prove now that his client was truly insane and only a mentally deranged individual would commit such distasteful lurid acts. Jeff Dahmer took the words insanity to the whole

Case Analysis of Andrea Yates

2532 words - 11 pages “Texas is the toughest state in the country to win an insanity defense case” Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, July 26, 2006 Andrea Yates grew up in Houston, Texas in a typical Roman Catholic family environment. Her family has been described as middle-class American family. Her father was a school teacher who taught shop. He would retire and then later suffer from Alzheimer’s. He passed away before the killings. Her mother worked to keep the house

The Web's Dark Side

878 words - 4 pages system; that is, all computers are assigned a machine number that is unique to it, and is traceable. Criminal intent is what has to be established. While the insanity defense is slung around with considerable degree nowadays, it may have a real merit in this case. As mentioned earlier, the defendant was involved in an auto accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down, underwent extensive surgery and regained limited use of his arms

Defining The Neurobiology Of Insanity

3378 words - 14 pages symptoms of "insanity." In searching for a neurobiological parallel to insanity, one approach is to look for disorders which exhibit these symptoms; of these, schizophrenia is one of the most potent examples, and, indeed, schizophrenics tend to qualify for the insanity defense. Literally meaning " 'fragmented mind'" (2), schizophrenia refers to the "ungluing of the mind,...the...dissociation of reason and emotion" (3), a "cognitive disorder" in

Related Essays

The Insanity Defense Essay

1239 words - 5 pages Introduction In this paper, you will read about the different insanity statutes being used in our country and a little about how they became our insanity statutes. I am going to discuss which insanity statute is being used in the state I live in and how often it is used. Since we will know how often this defense is used, you will also learn how successful it is. I will discuss the major criticisms and whether the psychologist should provide an

Criminology: Sane For Insanity? Essay

1730 words - 7 pages Sane for insanity? Often times, the Insanity Defense is viewed by the public as an excused for criminals who are trying to be free of a sentence in jail.That may be the case for a small portion of the time, but that rarely works. It does not matter what the defendants mental ability is at the moment of a trial. The jurors focus on the mental capability at the moment the defendant committed the crime. There are several tests that are looked at in

Insanity Plea Essay

1287 words - 6 pages of them die. The man responsible for this crime is currently on trial, and has the chance to be acquitted because he plans on pleading insanity. Prosecutors in this case proclaim: This just allows the defense to think through how they want to proceed…That makes it easier for the defense to plan its best case. Holmes could plead insanity and would wind up in a mental hospital indefinitely – and would never face execution, if the jury finds in

Observation Essay

261 words - 2 pages Jean Daniel 12/8/2014 Crisis Intervention (chapter 12 , question 2) The first and most obvious difference between the verdicts “guilty but mentally ill and “not guilty by reason of insanity” is in the definitions themselves. The plea of not guilty by reason of insanity refers to a person that was so mentally disturbed at the time that they committed a crime that he or she lacked the mental capacity to have intended to commit that