Being arrested for a criminal charge is a frightening situation that can lead to severe consequences for your future, your job status, and your family. Many times the stress of a criminal arrest can exacerbate an already existing mental health condition. Other charges could have been brought as a result of an existing mental health condition which you were unaware of. Either option requires close observation by a trained specialist, as well as a highly qualified Phoenix mental health defense attorney who is able to successfully argue the best defense for you.
Mental health is a tricky defense because so much weighs on the health of the accused prior to the arrest. If you have not previously been observed by a specialist, it may be difficult to prove any type of mental illness. While the “insanity” defense has been a defense since the nineteenth century after the McNaughton case, it gathered much press attention after the trial of John Hinkley who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. At the time, courts followed the current Model Penal Code, which provided that a person, who lacked the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or conform to the standards of law could be found not guilty by reason of insanity. This test was very vague and largely left to the discretion of juries.
After the trial of John Hinkley who was found not guilty for reason of insanity, the public was stunned and furious that would-be assassins could get away so easily. As a result, the Reagan administration passed a stricter test through the Comprehensive Crime Control Act which now requires “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,” aka the knowing right-from-wrong standard.
While the test has become stricter, it has also become a great path for choosing an alternative defense after a complex trial. The media has picked up on many “insanity” defense cases for public commentary on the abuse of this defense, but it is often relevant in many situations.
If you or a loved one have long struggled with a mental illness and were not adequately treated, this very well may serve as a defense for an act committed while you were suffering from the illness. Untreated mental illnesses often run wild and can lead many people to commit crimes they ordinarily would not have considered. Often, many people do not remember committing an offense due to the advanced stage of their illness. Therefore, it is important to hire a skilled mental health defense attorney who has experience in defending people who are suffering from a mental illness.
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