Diminished Capacity


Also found in: Dictionary, Medical, Wikipedia.

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 ?
Approximately 72% of the broker-dealers reported having an escalation procedure in place for diminished capacity or elder financial abuse or exploitation.
If he is found to have diminished capacity it could have a large impact on any possible sentencing.
Scheepers also said that the testimony, if accepted, might lead to 'a finding of diminished capacity to act, which in turn may have an impact at sentence when substantial and compelling circumstances need to exist to enable the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence'.
In this newest novel by Steven Gore, he takes on the dark side of one aspect of the American criminal justice system, exposing practices including, e.g., suborned perjury, manufactured evidence, witness intimidation, and corrupt attorneys, investigators, and expert witnesses such as psychiatrists called to bolster claims of diminished capacity. And it should be stated that he does do quite a convincing job of it.
It is clear that some financial firms are already attuned to the issue by offering training to agents to help identify potential diminished capacity or financial abuse.
Here, Jacob (psychiatrist), Gunn law, Staffordshire U), and Holland (learning disabilities, U of Cambridge) examine the workings of these pieces of legislation and their impact on practice and care of those with diminished capacity. Their collaborators contribute articles on the assessment process, the idea of the "best interest" for those with diminished capacity, specific elements introduced by each of the pieces of legislation, and an overview of clinical ambiguities in the assessment of capacity.
She said the abuse she had suffered had left her with a diminished capacity to know she was doing wrong, and noted she had received a full scholarship to study nursing.
When it occurs in patients with Alzheimer's disease, who already endure a diminished capacity to perceive their environment, the effect can be profoundly isolating and confusing.
"These conditions, in turn, are strongly related to other impairments, including a diminished capacity to form social relationships and focus on daily activities, including work," says Schnittker.
"We wanted to know what the red flags are that our people should look for pertaining to diminished capacity in senior clients," says Gordon.
At his jury trial in 2002, the defendant relied on the defense of diminished capacity. His expert psychiatrist testified that the defendant suffered from manic-depressive illness accompanied by psychotic features and paranoia.
IN A NUTSHELL For decades, dairymen have monitored their cows' body temperatures to detect the early onset of illnesses that might lead to diminished capacity to produce milk.