With insanity and diminished responsibility, the burden of proof is on the defendant. With automatism the burden of proof is on the prosecution and they must negate an automatism claim beyond reasonable doubt. There are two types of automatism: sane and insane. Sane automatism is caused by an external factor and insane automatism by an internal factor. Automatism occurs when the defendant's conscious mind is not connected with the part of mind that controls actions.
There is a difference between mental illness and going insane. Many problems are raised by the existence of the insanity defense. For example, determining the patient's true mental illness (whether they are faking or not), placement of the mentally ill after trial, the credibility of the psychological experts, the percentage of cases that are actually successful, and the usefulness of such a defense. The insanity defense is also seen as a legal loophole and a waste of money. Due to this, the insanity defense as a whole should be abolished in order to prevent the freed criminal from performing the same crime that put him on trial in the first place.
What is the insanity defense exactly? The insanity defense can be defined as “A defense asserted by an accused in a criminal prosecution to avoid liability for the commission of a crime, whereas at the time of the crime, the person did not appreciate the nature, quality, or wrongdoing of the acts.” In order to understand the insanity defense in its entirety, we must define other forms of it. The uttermost common variation is cognitive insanity which is where the defendant is profoundly impaired by a mental disease/defect at the time of the crime that he or she did not understand or appreciate the nature of the act committed or just didn’t know what they had done was wrong. Another form of insanity is called volitional insanity, or irresistible impulse. In addition, volitional insanity is essentially the same as the insanity plea, but with one critical difference, and that is, unlike the insanity plea whereas the defendant does not understand right from wrong, the irresistible impulse is when the defendant can discern between what is right and what is wrong.
To establish a defence of insanity, "...it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong." It lies with the defendant to prove that on the balance of probabilities that they fall within the confines of the test, and are thus insane. If proven, the individual is found 'not guilty by reason of insanity' (NGRI) and is at the 'disposal' of the court, meaning they can be discharged, given a supervision order or detained within a psychiatric institution. 3. The 'M'Naghten Rules' on insanity have various shortcomings.
The insanity defense would require both a mental disease and a relationship between the illness and the criminal behavior, neither of which could be scientifically proven. Of the criminals both acquitted and convicted using the insanity defense, a good number have shown conclusive evidence of recidivism. Many dangerous persons are allowed to return to the streets and many non-dangerous persons are forced into facilities due to an insanity plea adding further confusion and injustice within both the legal and medical systems. The insanity defense is impossible to maintain on the foundation of rules such as the M'Naghten Rule, and the relationship between law and psychiatry must be reinstated on a more scientific level, based on the neurological work now going on in the brain sciences.
The insanity defense has been around for a very long time, the idea behind it is that a person who is incapable of telling right from wrong should not be held responsible for his or her actions at the time. Insanity is different from youth, and mental retardation in the fact that the person is capable on a regular basis of understanding right from wrong. The insanity defense is not something that can just be used at will, and instantly believed. Insanity must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time the crime was committed, the offender was incapable of discerning right from wrong. However, there is another use for the insanity defense, and that is for the defendant to escape trial all together.
Reflection Like most criminal justice practices, the execution of the mentally ill has its ethical shortcomings. As previously state, the only criminals who are currently excluded from the death penalty are the legally insane and juveniles. The legally insane are defined as those who cannot distinguish right from wrong. In my opinion, there are many types of people in the world who, although they are not insane, they too are unable to differentiate right and wrong. They are mentally ill to the degree that they can’t make the distinction but they are not exempt from capital punishment.
The Insanity Plea The insanity plea is a poor excuse for serious lawbreakers, and should have no bearing in the sentencing of criminals. All criminal cases today have three ways in which a defendant can plea. Guilty, not guilty, or Insanity. The word insane is a legal term. Because research has identified many different mental illnesses of varying severities, it is now too simplistic to describe a severely mentally ill person merely as insane.
The legal test of insanity is set out in M’Naghten’s Case as mentioned above: “to establish a defence…of insanity it must be clearly proved that, at the time of committing the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.” To be specific, the defect of reason arises when the defendant is incapable of exercising normal reasoning. The defect of reason requires instability in reasoning rather than a failure to exercise it at a time when exercise of reason is possible. In the case of R v Clarke, the defendant was clinically depressed and in a moment of absent-mindedness, stole items from a supermark... ... middle of paper ... ...t it will result in outright acquittal, on the premise that no act is punishable if is done involuntarily. Diminished responsibility is more analogous to insanity than automatism in that the court has discretion in sentencing; however, the outcome of the defence can be distinguished from both. A successful outcome when the defence is raised is reducing liability from murder to manslaughter and consequently removing the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
For centuries, one of the most controversial topics in the legal system has been the insanity defense. Some believe that this defense should stay, but many have the opposite opinion. Many of the arguments stemming from the public state that this defense is useless and does not belong in the legal system. The majority of the time, this opinion is formed based on a narrow view of high profile cases seen on the news without a sufficient amount of knowledge on the topic to have an educated opinion. Digging deeper into this subject shows that this defense deserves to remain in the legal system.