United States Supreme Court Rules To Allow States To Bar Insanity Defense

The United States Supreme Court has recently ruled to limit the rights of people accused of crimes. The Supreme Court declared that states can bar defendants from using the “insanity defense” in criminal cases. This ruling basically allows states to determine what they will allow for defenses in that area. The case at hand is a Kansas murder case where the defendant was convicted and is sentenced to death for killing four members of his family. The man used a rifle to kill his wife, two teenage daughters and his wife’s grandmother. He did not kill his son, who was nine years old at the time of the murders back in 2009. The crimes were committed just after Thanksgiving where the man had lost his job and his wife had filed for divorce.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the state of Kansas did not violate the United States Constitution by eliminating the insanity defense in that state. In Kansas, defendants cannot make the argument that they were insane and not able to form any moral judgement in an effort to excuse them from any criminal responsibility. Kansas law, however, allows defendants to make an argument saying that they did not form the necessary intent to commit the crime due to a mental defect. The state of Kansas, along with Utah, Montana, and Idaho have all removed the traditional insanity defense.

The Law In Michigan

In the state of Michigan, your mental capacity at the time of an alleged crime can be a part of your legal defense. In Michigan, “legal insanity” can be a defense to criminal liability. Legal insanity is defined as a person who suffers from a mental illness or mental retardation that “lacks substantial capacity to either appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his or her conduct, or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law.” If the person is designated as “legally insane” then that could result in an acquittal. When someone is considered legally insane then that means they aren’t capable of mentally forming the criminal intent necessary for a crime. A criminal intent is the core of most crimes in criminal law in Michigan. In order to win on a defense of legal insanity, a defense attorney must prove more likely than not that the defendant meets the requirements of legal insanity. What is important to note is that when this defense is successful and results in an acquittal, that does not mean that the person automatically goes free. That person will be committed to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry to receive treatment and possible long-term confinement.

What Happens Now?

Based on this United States Supreme Court ruling, states are now free to choose how they would like their legal insanity laws to operate. A state can now simply bar the defense altogether if they choose. This area of law is often mischaracterized and confused. Simply claiming insanity doesn’t get you off the hook, but in the correct case with the correct defense strategy, an insanity defense can lead to an acquittal. If the person truly is mentally ill, then treatment at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry might be exactly what that person needs to try to gain their mental capacity and competency to be able to be a part of rest of society once more. If you have further questions on this topic, it is important to speak to a qualified criminal defense attorney to understand this law correctly. Finding resources such as this online can be useful, but they should never substitute the advice from a qualified criminal defense attorney.

Any Further Questions?

If you have any additional questions relating to this case or anything else related to criminal defense, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge or is currently being investigated for a possible criminal charge, then it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing clients in both federal and state court respectively. We are a criminal defense firm, it’s all we do. We are available by phone on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.

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