Moral Aspects of Insanity Defense in Lawers Work
Imagine that you are a lawyer and your client tells you that they are being formally charged for murder, but truly were unaware that it occurred due to in happening while they were asleep (sleepwalking). As a lawyer, you are paid to provide the best defense for your client. To provide the best defense, you would make sure that your client pleads insanity. Defendants are given the choice of guilty and not guilty, but in rare situations, when they are not in their “right mind” their attorney would try to evoke the insanity defense. This defense is mostly used when someone would not be held responsible because they were unable to discern right from wrong in the moment.
The insanity defense could be defined as admitting that one committed the action, but not being completely responsible due to mental illness, psychosis or not having the intention or consciousness of committing the act. It has been said that the insanity defense is providing an excuse, rather than justification. Although the insanity defense definition may seem similar to psychology and medical terminology, the definition is more closely related to the legal system. Because of the close connection, it sometimes overlaps, but in no way is interchangeable.
Most of the ideas that people in society have regarding the insanity defense are wrong. One such misconception is that everyone uses it and automatically is released. Contrary to popular belief, the insanity defense is not used as often as television shows and the media would have you think. The insanity defense is only raised in about 1% of felony cases and is successful in about 28% of those cases. Another misconception is that if one has a mental health diagnosis that they would unquestionably qualify for the insanity defense. This is inaccurate because the individual may still know the difference between right and wrong although they are mentally ill.
Another way that psychology plays a role in the insanity defense is through forensics. Clinical and Forensic psychologists are obtained to complete evaluations or be used as an expert witness to determine if an individual fits the criteria for the insanity defense. They need to have their psychological diagnosis fit with the legal definition of being insane, and additionally, the individual must not know the difference between good and bad behavior to complete the determination. Furthermore, just because an individual is considered insane that does not mean they will not receive punishment for their actions.
The Insanity Defense Reform Act (IDRA) of 1984 prosed a standard for legal insanity. The defense is raised by the defendant and the defendant would have the burden of proof. In addition, the volitional was dropped from the definition of psychopathy. Another change was that experts were barred from giving ultimate issue testimony(also called ultimate-opinion testimony) about sanity. That is, although experts were still permitted to testify a few defendant’s condition, they’d not be permissible to state their opinion expressly concerning whether a defendant was sane at the time of the crime. Decades later, the terminology for insanity defense changes to guilty, but mentally ill. That change makes it clear that the defendant was found guilty, but is mentally ill, thus treatment is required to be provided while they are incarcerated.
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