insanity

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insanity

n. 1) mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior. Insanity is distinguished from low intelligence or mental deficiency due to age or injury. If a complaint is made to law enforcement, to the district attorney, or to medical personnel that a person is evidencing psychotic behavior, he/she may be confined to a medical facility long enough (typically 72 hours) to be examined by psychiatrists who submit written reports to the local superior/county/district court. A hearing is then held before a judge, with the person in question entitled to legal representation, to determine if she/he should be placed in an institution or special facility. The person may request a trial to determine sanity. The original hearings are often routine with the psychiatric findings accepted by the judge. In criminal cases, a plea of "not guilty by reason of insanity," will require a trial on the issue of the defendant's insanity (or sanity) at the time the crime was committed. In these cases the defendant usually claims "temporary insanity" (crazy then, but okay now). The traditional test of insanity in criminal cases is whether the accused knew "the difference between right and wrong," following the "M'Naughten Rule" from 19th Century England. Most states require more sophisticated tests based on psychiatric and/or psychological testimony evaluated by a jury of laypersons or a judge without psychiatric training. 4) a claim by a criminal defendant of his insanity at the time of trial requires a separate hearing to determine if a defendant is sufficiently sane to understand the nature of a trial and participate in his/her own defense. If found to be insane, the defendant will be ordered to a mental facility, and the trial held only if sanity returns. 5) sex offenders may be found to be sane for all purposes except the compulsive dangerous and/or anti-social behavior. They are usually sentenced to special facilities for sex offenders, supposedly with counseling available. However, there are often maximum terms related to the type of crime, so that parole and release may occur with no proof of cure of the compulsive desire to commit sex crimes. (See: M'Naughten Rule, temporary insanity)

insanity

in the criminal law of England and Scotland, a plea in relation to the mental state of the accused. It maybe pled as a defence in its own right or submitted as a plea of insanity in bar of trial.

In English law, every person is presumed sane unless the contrary is proved. The burden of proving insanity rests with the accused. The issue of fitness to plead will be decided by the judge not the jury. When the judge finds that the defendant is unfit to plead, the jury will decide whether the defendant did the act or made the omission. When insanity is pled as a defence, the criteria for determining whether or not the plea should be successful are the McNaghten rules. To establish such a defence the accused must show that at the time of committing the offence he was suffering from such a disease of the mind or defect of reason that he did not 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. If the accused was aware that what he was doing was something he ought not to do and the act committed was at the time an offence, he is punishable. If the defence succeeds, the accused must be declared not guilty by reason ofinsanity.

In Scotland, as a defence, the state of mind must have been in existence at the time of the act in question. If sane at the time of the trial and the defence is established, then the accused will not be convicted. The accused must prove his insanity on balance of probabilities. The test is the overpowering of reason by a mental defect, leaving the person unable to control his own conduct. The McNaghten rules do not apply in Scotland. Scots law recognizes an intermediate state between sanity and insanity, mitigating the crime of murder or attempted murder but not exculpating: the plea is called diminished responsibility (see HOMICIDE). If successful, it results in a conviction for culpable homicide for which there is no mandatory sentence such as life imprisonment or, as was formerly the case, death by hanging. Non-insane automatism is recognized in Scots law as an exculpating factor.

INSANITY, med. jur. A continued impetuosity of thought, which, for the time being, totally unfits a man for judging and acting in relation to the matter in question, with the composure requisite for the maintenance of the social relations of life. Various other definitions of this state have been given, but perhaps the subject is not susceptible of any satisfactory definition, which shall, with, precision, include all cases of insanity, and exclude all others. Ray, Med. Jur. Sec. 24, p. 50.
     2. It may be considered in a threefold point of view: 1. A chronic disease, manifested by deviations from the healthy and natural state of the mind, such deviations consisting in a morbid perversion of the feelings, affections and habits. 2. Disturbances of the intellectual faculties, under the influence of which the understanding becomes susceptible of hallucinations or erroneous. impressions of a particular kind. 3. A state of mental incoherence or constant hurry and confusion of thought. Cyclo. Practical Medicine, h. t.; Brewster's Encyclopaedia, h. t.; Observations on the Deranged Manifestations of the Mind, or Insanity, 71, 72; Merl. R‚pert. mots Demenoe, Folie, Imbecilite; 6 Watts & Serg. 451.
     3. The diseases included under the name of insanity have been arranged under two divisions, founded on two very different conditions of the brain. Ray, Med. Jur. ch. 1, Sec. 33.
     4.-1. The want of, or a defective development of the faculties. 1st. Idiocy, resulting from, 1. Congenital defect. 2. An obstacle to the development of the faculties, supervening in infancy. 2d. Imbecility, resulting from, 1. Congenital defects. 2. An obstacle to the development of the faculties, supervening in infancy.
     5.-2. The lesion of the faculties subsequent to their development. In this division may be classed, 1st. Mania, which is, 1. Intellectual, and is general or partial. 2. Affective and is general or, partial. 2d. Dementia, which is, 1. Consecutive to mania, or injuries of the brain. 2. Senile, or peculiar to old age.
     6.-There is also a disease which has acquired the name of Moral insanity. (q. v.)
     7. Insanity is an excuse for the commission of acts which in others would be crimes, because the insane man has no intention; it deprives a man also from entering into any valid contract. Vide Lunacy; Non compos mentis, and Stock on the Law of Non Compotes Mentis; 1 Hagg. Cons. R. 417; 3 Addams, R. 90, 91, 180, 181; 3 Hagg. Eccl. R. 545, 598, 600; 2 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 369, 374; Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.

References in periodicals archive ?
(5) Julie Turkewitz, Aurora Gunman Legally Insane, Psychiatrist
(127) A psychotic mother who raises the insanity defense has the burden of proof to convince the jury that she was legally insane at the time of the murders.
The American Psychiatric Association classifies paranoid schizophrenia as a "psychotic disorder"(113) that satisfies even the most stringent of the insanity test's "mental disease or defect' requirements.(114) Further, a paranoid schizophrenic's persistent delusions or hallucinations likely will constitute sufficient interference with cognition, volition, or both.(115) Thus, unable to appreciate the nature and quality of criminal actions or to resist acting on criminal impulses, paranoid schizophrenics will often qualify as legally insane actors under the different insanity tests."'
But he denies murder after claiming he was legally insane at the time.
Kaeding said the credible evidence in the case supported a finding that his client was legally insane at the time of the blaze.
OF ALL THE INVALID components of psychiatric diagnostic categories, perhaps the most invidious, yet mystifying, is the assessment that an accused felon is legally insane. Although there are variations across the country regarding what constitutes legal insanity, it is most frequently ostensibly based on whether a mental health professional says--and can convince a judge and/or a jury--that the accused is incapable of understanding that he or she has committed a crime (generally called the "cognitive test") or that he or she cannot control that which he or she has done (generally called the "volitional test").
They did not buy Gerhartsreiter's attorney's claim that he suffered from delusions and was legally insane.
Breivik, who has admitted the attacks, but pleaded not guilty and declared his desire to be found accountable, also challenged a psychiatric report classifying him as legally insane, News24 reports.
And his defense attorney, Robert Hutchings, filed court papers in December saying he intended to present evidence that O'Callaghan was legally insane at the time of the shooting.
Meanwhile, the doctor in charge of reviewing Breivik's psychiatric evaluation, Tarjei Rygnestad, yesterday said the murderer is unlikely to be declared legally insane.
Two psychiatrists are set to begin assessing this week whether he is legally insane, as prosecutors seek to bring him to trial next year, and are expected to report back by November 1.
The challenge faced by the defendant at trial was that the court-appointed evaluator had determined that, although the defendant experienced psychotic symptoms (including hearing voices that he believed to be from God) at the time of the offense, the defendant's cocaine use had initiated and exacerbated these symptoms and thus the defendant was not legally insane at the time of the crime.