We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Insanity Plea Essay Sample

essay
The whole doc is available only for registered users OPEN DOC
  • Pages:
  • Word count: 908
  • Category: law

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Insanity Plea Essay Sample

An important distinction: “Not guilty by reason of insanity” and “diminished capacity” Although a defense known as “diminished capacity” bears some resemblance to the “reason of insanity” defense (in that both examine the mental competence of the defendant), there are important differences. The most fundamental of these is that, while “reason of insanity” is a full defense to a crime — that is, pleading “reason of insanity” is the equivalent of pleading “not guilty” — “diminished capacity” is merely pleading to a lesser crime. One of the most famous recent uses of the insanity defense came in United States v. Hinckley, concerning the assassination attempt against then-President Ronald Reagan. The history of “not guilty by reason of insanity”

The insanity defense reflects a compromise on the part of society and the law. On the one hand, society believes that criminals should be punished for their crimes; on the other hand, society believs that people who are ill should receive treatment for their illness. The insanity defense is the compromise: basically, it reflects society’s belief that the law should not punish defendants who are mentally incapable of controlling their conduct. In the 18th century, the legal standards for the insanity defense were varied. Some courts looked to whether the defendant could distinguish between good and evil, while others asked whether the defendant “did not know what he did.” By the 19th century, it was generally accepted that insanity was a question of fact, which was left to the jury to decide. The McNaughton rule — not knowing right from wrong

The first famous legal test for insanity came in 1843, in the McNaughton case. Englishman Daniel McNaughton shot and killed the secretary of the British Prime Minister, believing that the Prime Minister was conspiring against him. The court acquitted McNaughton “by reason of insanity,” and he was placed in a mental institution for the rest of his life. However, the case caused a public uproar, and Queen Victoria ordered the court to develop a stricter test for insanity. The “McNaughton rule” was a standard to be applied by the jury, after hearing medical testimony from prosecution and defense experts. The rule created a presumption of sanity, unless the defense proved “at the time of committing the act, the accused was laboring 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 what he was doing was wrong.” The McNaughton rule became the standard for insanity in the United States and the United Kingdom, and is still the standard for insanity in almost half of the states. The Durham rule — “irresistible impulse”

Monte Durham was a 23-year-old who had been in and out of prison and mental institutions since he was 17. He was convicted for housebreaking in 1953, and his attorney appealed. Although the district court judge had ruled that Durham’s attorneys had failed to prove he didn’t know the difference between right and wrong, the federal appellate judge chose to use the case to reform the McNaughton rule. Citing leading psychiatrists and jurists of the day, the appellate judge stated that the McNaughton rule was based on “an entirely obsolete and misleading conception of the nature of insanity.” He overturned Durham’s conviction and established a new rule. The Durham rule states “that an accused is not criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or mental defect.” The Durham rule was eventually rejected by the federal courts, because it cast too broad a net. Alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, and drug addicts had successfully used the defense to defeat a wide variety of crimes. The Model Penal Code: turning responsibility to the jury

In 1972, the American Law Institute, a panel of legal experts, developed a new rule for insanity as part of the Model Penal Code. This rule says that a defendant is not responsible for criminal conduct where (s)he, as a result of mental disease or defect, did not possess “substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.” This new rule was based on the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision in the federal appellate case, United States v. Brawner, 471 F.2d 969 (1972). Obviously, this standard is very vague. It leaves a number of factors up to the jury to determine, given the facts of a case and the testimony of experts. About half the states have adopted the Model Penal Code rule for insanity. The Federal rule: Reagan gets into the act

In 1984, Congress passed, and President Ronald Reagan signed, the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. The federal insanity defense now requires the defendant to prove, by “clear and convincing evidence,” that “at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts” (18 U.S.C. § 17). This is generally viewed as a return to the “knowing right from wrong” standard. The Act also contained the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 4241, which sets out sentencing and other provisions for dealing with offenders who are or have been suffering from a mental disease or defect.

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

A Critique of Natural Law

Natural Law is a concept that has caused ambiguity throughout the history of Western thought. There is a multitude of incompatible ideas of natural law that have caused even those who are in basic agreement on natural law theory to have opposing notions on the particulars. In spite of this confusion, there have been enough advocates among natural law thinking in Western society to make...

International Law Vs National Law

International law and national law are often in a conflict on some certain cases where it is hard to determine whether an international law will prevail or vice versa. On the other hand, many theorists are ultimately concerned with a conflict between the two systems and that they have labored in an effort to assign a paramount rank to one system or the other to...

The world of feminist research

In the world of feminist research, there is a diversity of issues that can be studied, many of which are sensitive topics. An issue I chose to focus my research on is female genital mutilation (FGM). I have found that more research needs to be conducted on FGM, and it should be done in a way that respects the rights of the individuals and the...

Maritime Law in Nigeria

The earth is viewed as a liquid planet as 70% of it is covered by water. The oceans are critical to States’ interests and human prosperity, being a highway for commerce, a shared resource and a vector for threats to security. The oceans are the highway for 90% of the world’s international trade and provide 40% of the protein consumed in the developing world ....

Father-in-law of Europe

I hope you are doing well. Recently, you wrote to us that you believe that the second agreement you have entered with ABC company was void as the consideration was inadequate. However, you also mentioned that your father-in-law, Kasim contended that both agreements that you entered together with your father-in-law and ABC company were void because lack of good considerations. Specifically, you have asked for...

Get Access To The Full Essay
icon
300+
Materials Daily
icon
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
icon
Free Plagiarism
Checker
icon
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access
immediately?

Become a member

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!

logo

Emma Taylor

online

Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Couldn't Find What You Looking For?

Get access to our huge knowledge base which is continuously updated

Next Update Will Be About:
14 : 59 : 59
Become a Member