MENTAL IMPAIRMENT SHORT OF INSANITY
This post will answer the following legal questions on the legal defense of mental impairment short of insanity:
What is mental impairment short of insanity?
Sometimes individuals are so impaired when they commit a crime that they are legally considered “insane” at the time. There is a specific defense to this condition called a “not guilty by reason of insanity” defense, which argues they are not criminally responsible for their action(s).
Yet, sometimes, individuals are not quite insane, but are clearly not in a clear state of mind, often times due to mental illness they cannot make the requisite legal intent to commit the crime. When an individual is not in a clear state of mind, he or she could have a diminished state of mind, and this is relevant to whether he or she intended to commit the crime of which they are charged.
When there are instances that the individual has a diminished state of mind, the jury will be made aware of this and may take it into consideration. The judge will actually instruct the jury that the person had what is called a “mental impairment short of insanity.”
Even if the Commonwealth has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was sane at the time of the offense, such evidence may still be relevant to deliberations on the issue of mental impairment that does not rise to the level of criminal responsibility.
Such an impairment is not a legal excuse or justification for a criminal act. However, that does not necessarily mean the defendant’s mental condition is not relevant to the deliberations on the issue of whether the defendant had the criminal intent that is required for conviction of this offense.
What is “necessary intent”?
Sometimes a person’s mental condition may be such that he or she is not capable of having the necessary intent to commit a crime. Defendants that lack such intent must be found NOT GUILTY.
In other cases, a person may have some mental impairment, but may still be able to form the necessary intent. Such a defendant may be convicted, since mental impairment short of insanity is not an excuse for a crime if the defendant was able to, and did, form the required intent.
How does the Commonwealth prove the defendant had the necessary criminal intent required for conviction?
When jurors consider whether or not the Commonwealth has proved that the defendant had the necessary intent required for conviction of the offense in question, they may take into account any evidence about the defendant’s mental condition.
The Commonwealth is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with the intent to commit the offense in question.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.