At your arraignment, you can enter a not guilty by reason of insanity plea. If you successfully persuade the jury in a California criminal jury trial that you are not guilty due to insanity, you will be sent to a state mental institution rather than being sent to prison.
The not guilty by reason of insanity defense was introduced into American law in 1857 by Dr. John C. Bennett. He argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that his client was not responsible for his actions because he suffered from "manic depression." The court agreed and acquitted him of all charges. This case is often cited as establishing the first legal definition of mental illness: "Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity."
Bennett's success led to many more trials involving this defense. It became clear that those found not guilty by reason of insanity could be released after a certain period if they were again convicted of a crime that required them to be held in confinement. To prevent this from happening, states began to build hospitals where people could be kept until they no longer met the criteria for civil commitment. These institutions are known as mental hospitals.
As mental hospitals evolved into what we know today as correctional facilities, the term "mental illness" was replaced with the term "disease or defect of the mind."
In modern times, the insanity defense has been used extensively in the United States.
If you successfully plead the insanity defense, then you will not receive the normal jail or prison sentence for your crime. Instead, you will be committed to a state mental hospital. The doctors there will decide whether you are still suffering from schizophrenia when viewed in light of all the facts surrounding your case. If so, you will remain hospitalized indefinitely.
If you are found sane by the court, then you will likely be released after a few months or years into a community treatment program. Your doctor may recommend that you take medication as part of your rehabilitation, which could mean staying on it for the rest of your life.
You cannot withdraw the insanity defense once it has been filed with the court. However, there are cases where people have been able to prove that they had become mentally well enough to be released from hospitals. In such cases, the judge may order their release after some further period of time has passed.
The fact that someone has pleaded insanity does not necessarily mean that they are guilty of the crime. In most cases, lawyers will try to show that their client was not responsible for their actions because of a severe mental illness. Judges tend to be sympathetic to this argument and will often rule that the defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity. Not everyone who uses this defense wins their case, however.
Sentencing in the Defense of Insanity If you successfully plead the insanity defense, you will not be sentenced to jail or prison for your crime. You will instead be confined to a state psychiatric facility. There, doctors will determine if you are still suffering from schizophrenia or another mental illness that prevented you from knowing right from wrong at the time of the offense.
The only way to get out of the hospital is with permission from the court. Your doctor can also file papers asking that you be released after a certain number of days or weeks. If you leave the hospital without permission, then you have broken the law and can be charged with criminal negligence or misconduct while in custody.
If you were found guilty of all charges but pleaded insane, your attorney may ask the judge to send you to a mental institution for several months or even years. During this time, more information about your condition can be learned and an appropriate course of treatment can be determined.
Once you have been declared sane by the court, you will be sent back home or to another hospital where you will receive medical care and treatment as needed.
It is very important to tell your lawyer if you feel mentally ill. If you do not tell your attorney, it could affect his ability to represent you properly in your case.
If a criminal defendant is proved to have been legally insane at the time of the offense, they may be ruled not guilty by reason of insanity. Due to mental incapacity, the defendant may be found guilty but sentenced to a less harsh punishment in specific situations. If the defendant is committed to a psychiatric facility for treatment of their condition, they may be released after successful completion of the program.
The insanity defense was first adopted by the United States in 1843 when William Lewis Herndon was able to prove his innocence because of severe depression. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to death before he could be heard by the Supreme Court. The court decided that a federal statute prohibiting execution of prisoners who had not had a fair trial violated Herndon's right to due process. The case was remanded to the district court with instructions to send Herndon to the President for a pardon. If no pardon is granted, his sentence will be carried out.
In modern-day America, the insanity defense is still available to defendants who have proven that they were unable to understand the nature of their actions or conform their behavior to the requirements of the law because of some severe mental disease or defect.
If the defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity, they are given the opportunity to be treated for their condition in facilities all over the country.
In some jurisdictions, a verdict is available in cases involving an insanity defense, in which the defendant is treated as if found guilty but is committed to a mental hospital rather than imprisoned if an examination reveals a need for psychiatric treatment – as opposed to not guilty by reason of insanity. In such cases, the jury may return one of several possible verdicts: guilty; not guilty; not guilty by reason of insanity; or guilty but mentally ill.
In other words, a person who commits an illegal act but cannot be held responsible for their actions because they were insane when they did them can still be punished. As with not guilty by reason of insanity, punishment in this case would be ordered by a judge, not by a jury. The difference between not guilty by reason of insanity and guilty but mentally ill is that while the former does not require any further medical treatment beyond what was provided during an insanity trial, people who are declared guilty but mentally ill can be given appropriate medication against their will.
The American Law Institute (ALI) has proposed an alternative verdict of "not guilty by reason of temporary insanity." The ALI proposal has not been adopted by any state legislature but has been discussed by several including Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin.
The term "guilty but mentally ill" was first used in a 1989 decision by the California Supreme Court.