Diminished Capacity

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Diminished Capacity

This doctrine recognizes that although, at the time the offense was committed, an accused was not suffering from a mental disease or defect sufficient to exonerate him or her from all criminal responsibility, the accused's mental capacity may have been diminished by intoxication, trauma, or mental disease so that he or she did not possess the specific mental state or intent essential to the particular offense charged.

diminished capacity

n. essentially a psychological term which has found its way into criminal trials. A contention of diminished capacity means that although the accused was not insane, due to emotional distress, physical condition or other factors he/she could not fully comprehend the nature of the criminal act he/she is accused of committing, particularly murder or attempted murder. It is raised by the defense in attempts to remove the element of premeditation or criminal intent and thus obtain a conviction for a lesser crime, such as manslaughter instead of murder. While the theory has some legitimacy, at times juries have been overly impressed by psychiatric testimony. The most notorious case was in People v. Dan White, the admitted killer of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, who got only a manslaughter conviction on the basis that his capacity was diminished by the sugar content of his blood due to eating "twinkies." (See: insanity, M'Naughten Rule)

References in periodicals archive ?
"But if it related to being there, being present, being coerced and manipulated and involved in the killing and depression causing poor problem solving skills at the time that would amount to diminished responsibility.
Yukawa admitted that the crime was unplanned but ruled that Eto had an intention of killing the couple and denied the notion of diminished responsibility based on the results of a psychiatric examination.
Diminished Responsibility is intended as a sourcebook for lawyers involved in criminal trials and psychiatrists who serve as expert witnesses.
Prosecutor Philip Henry said he would direct a forensic psychiatrist instructed on behalf of the Crown, Dr Christine Kennedy, to start work immediately on her report on diminished responsibility.
In his closing speech, prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC told the jury they had to decide whether the offence of murder should be reduced to manslaughter, either because the defendant lost his self-control or was suffering from diminished responsibility.
Mr Rees added that the defence team wanted a psychiatrist to examine Gafoor to see if they could put forward a plea of not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility. But Gafoor refused to co-operate.
Alan Cooper has admitted stabbing his 14-year-old nephew to death, but denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Appearing at the High Court in Edinburgh, Theresa Riggi, 47, admitted killing them, entering a plea of culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility. She had originally been charged with murder.
Graham Kee admitted the manslaughter of Thomas Grundy on the grounds of diminished responsibility in May.
Hussey, of Yeadon, Leeds, admitted the manslaughter of her 76-year-old grandmother at her home in Mirfield, West Yorkshire but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming voices in her head had told her to do it