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Mental Illness: Understanding the Insanity Defense to Criminal Charges

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal justice systemDepending on the facts surrounding your criminal case, there may be several defenses available. One of these defenses is the "insanity defense." When a defendant asserts the insanity defense, the defendant is arguing that he or she was not criminally responsible for his or her actions. The insanity defense is one of the most famous defenses in criminal law, although it is rarely used.

Typically, when a defendant asserts the "insanity defense" he or she will be required to be mentally evaluated. If the defense is successful, the defendant will be committed to a psychiatric facility instead of a correctional facility, depending on the circumstances of the case. This is because the insanity defense is based on the principle that incarceration or punishment is justified only when the defendant is capable of controlling his or her behavior and understanding the consequences of that behavior. Since people with certain mental disorders are incapable of knowing what is right or wrong, the insanity defense will prevent individuals with mental disorders from being punished criminally.

Insanity Defense in Wisconsin

Under Wisconsin law, you can utilize the "insanity defense" if, at the time of the alleged crime or wrongful conduct, as a result of a mental disease or defect, you lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness or conform your conduct to the requirements of the law.

Therefore, in order to use this defense, you need to have been diagnosed with a mental disease or defect. Typically, a court appointed mental health professional will evaluate your mental disease or defect. The determination by the mental health professional will give an opinion as to whether or not you knew the conduct was right or wrong, and whether or not you had the ability to control your conduct that led to the criminal incident.

Insanity Defense Applied

Commonly, declaring your insanity begins on one of the first dates, known as arraignment, where you plead not guilty by reason of insanity. At trial, the court will address whether you are not guilty or guilty of the alleged crime first; then it will address whether or not you were not guilty by reason of insanity. If you are found not guilty by reason of insanity, you may be committed to a mental health facility for a period of time until health officials determine that you do not pose a serious threat to safety of the public. It is extremely rare for individuals to walk free and clear after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are being investigated or charged with a crime, and you did not recognize that your conduct was wrong, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who will be able to protect your rights and aggressively assert your insanity defense.

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