Justification Defenses and Just Convictions


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Her plan is to subdue each sister with the stun gun and then hack off her hair. As she arrives at the house, she sees Agnes, one of her sorority sisters, trip and fall in the parking lot, ripping her cashmere sweater and scraping her chin. Feeling a stab of pity, Jolene ignores Agnes and walks hurriedly toward the building. You look like you just rolled out of bed!

Jolene claims she is not guilty for assault and battery of Ashley by reason of insanity. If Jolene attacked Ashley in a jurisdiction that recognizes the irresistible impulse insanity defense, she probably will not be successful with her claim. Jolene has been diagnosed with paranoia , which is a mental defect or disease. However, Jolene seems aware that shooting someone with a stun gun and cutting off her hair is wrong because she spared Agnes based on pity.

Thus Jolene is cognitive of the difference between right and wrong and has the will to suppress criminal behavior, defeating any claim of insanity under the irresistible impulse insanity defense. The substantial capacity test is the insanity defense created by the Model Penal Code. The Model Penal Code was completed in By , approximately half of the states and the federal government adopted the substantial capacity test also called the Model Penal Code or ALI defense Rolf, C.

However, in , John Hinckley successfully claimed insanity using the substantial capacity test in his federal trial for the attempted murder of then-President Ronald Reagan. The defense has two elements. In general, it is easier to establish insanity under the substantial capacity test because both the cognitive and volitional requirements are scaled down to more flexible standards. Instead, the defendant must lack substantial , not total, capacity. In addition, unlike the irresistible impulse insanity defense, the defendant must lack substantial , not total, ability to conform conduct to the requirements of the law.

Loreen has been diagnosed with psychosis and spent most of her life in a mental hospital. While at the mental hospital, Loreen made friends with many of the patients and health-care personnel. From time to time, Loreen would play jokes on these friends. Loreen was always reprimanded and often sternly punished for these escapades. After her release from the mental hospital at age twenty-one, Loreen falls in love with Aidan, a man who works in a bookstore near her apartment.

Loreen decides to make Aidan fall in love with her by feeding him a magic potion, which she concocts out of a mixture of her antidepressants. Loreen buys a book from Aidan and casually asks if he would like her to buy him a coffee. While Aidan is sipping the coffee, Loreen declares her love for him.

Loreen claims she is not guilty for battering Aidan by reason of insanity. If Loreen is in a jurisdiction that recognizes the substantial capacity test, she may be successful with her claim.

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Loreen has a mental disease or defect, psychosis. The Durham insanity defense is used only in New Hampshire and has been the established insanity defense in New Hampshire since the late s. The Durham defense, also called the Durham rule or the product test , was adopted by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in the case of Durham v.

However, the court failed to give definitions for product, mental disease, or mental defect. Thus the Durham insanity defense is extremely difficult to apply, and the D. Circuit rejected it in in the case of U. Brawner , F. In general, the Durham insanity defense relies on ordinary principles of proximate causation. First, the defendant must have a mental disease or defect. The second element has to do with causation. Arianna has been diagnosed with paranoia. Arianna gradually becomes convinced that Nora is communicating secret messages to their coworkers when she is speaking to Arianna.

Arianna is genuinely frightened that Nora is telling their coworkers to kill her, and she decides she needs to defend herself. Arianna brings a gun to work one day, and when Nora begins talking to her about her tendency to take overlong lunches, Arianna pulls the gun out of her cubicle and shoots and kills Nora.

Loss of Control: An Acceptable Defence?

Arianna claims she is not guilty for killing Nora by reason of insanity. If Arianna killed Nora in New Hampshire, she might be successful with her claim. Arianna has a mental disease or defect, paranoia. Thus a trier of fact could acquit Arianna on the grounds that her conduct is excusable under these circumstances. There is generally a presumption that criminal defendants are sane , just as there is a presumption that they are innocent.

Therefore, at a minimum, a defendant claiming insanity must produce evidence that rebuts this presumption.

Some states require the prosecution to thereafter prove sanity beyond a reasonable doubt or to a preponderance of evidence Elkins, J. Post- Hinckley , many states have converted the insanity defense into an affirmative defense. The federal government and some other states require the defendant to prove insanity by clear and convincing evidence , which is a higher standard than preponderance of evidence Tenn.

Code Ann.

A claim of diminished capacity differs from the insanity defense. Diminished capacity is an imperfect failure of proof defense recognized in a minority of jurisdictions. Diminished capacity could reduce a first-degree murder charge to second-degree murder or manslaughter if the defendant lacks the mental capacity to form the appropriate criminal intent for first-degree murder.

In California, diminished capacity was abolished as an affirmative defense after San Francisco Supervisor Dan White used it successfully in his trial for the murder of fellow Supervisor Harvey Milk. A jury convicted White of voluntary manslaughter rather than first-degree premeditated murder after reviewing evidence that proved his diet of junk food Twinkies created a chemical imbalance in his brain. In the aftermath of this highly publicized trial, California passed legislation eliminating the diminished capacity defense and limiting the admissibility of evidence of diminished capacity only to sentencing proceedings Cal.

Lavender Law

Penal Code, Similar to diminished capacity is the syndrome defense. A syndrome that negates the requisite intent for the crime could function as a failure of proof defense in a minority of jurisdictions.


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Some common examples of syndromes the American Psychiatric Association recognizes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , fourth edition DSM-IV , are antisocial personality disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and intermittent explosive disorder. The insanity defense is different from mental competence to stand trial. If the insanity defense is successful, it exonerates the defendant from guilt. Mental competence to stand trial is analyzed at the time the trial is to take place.

If the defendant is mentally incompetent to stand trial, the trial is delayed until the defendant regains competency. Although a detailed discussion of mental competence to stand trial is beyond the scope of this book, in general, a criminal defendant must be able to understand the charges against him or her, and be able to assist in his or her defense. A defendant who is mentally incompetent at the time of trial is subject to mental health treatment or even involuntary medication until competence is regained.

Post- Hinckley , some states adopted the guilty but mentally ill verdict. A defendant who is found guilty but mentally ill is not acquitted but punished and treated for mental health simultaneously while in prison. Typically, the guilty but mentally ill verdict is available only when the defendant fails to prove legal insanity, and requires the defendant to prove mental illness at the time of the crime to a preponderance of evidence ILCS, In this example, Jolene has been diagnosed with paranoia, but shows an ability to control and understand the wrongfulness of her conduct, so she probably will not be successful with an irresistible impulse insanity defense.

Justification and Excuse - Criminal Defense Wiki

If Jolene is in a state that offers a guilty but mentally ill verdict, Jolene may be an appropriate candidate because she was mentally ill at the time she assaulted and battered her sorority sister. If Jolene is found guilty but mentally ill, she will be treated for her mental health simultaneously while serving any prison sentence.

Figure 6. Self-defence in case of aggression Every one who has without justification assaulted another but did not commence the assault with intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or has without justification provoked an assault on himself by another, may justify the use of force subsequent to the assault if.

Provocation Provocation includes, for the purposes of sections 34 and 35, provocation by blows, words or gestures. Preventing assault Extent of justification 2 Nothing in this section shall be deemed to justify the wilful infliction of any hurt or mischief that is excessive, having regard to the nature of the assault that the force used was intended to prevent. For all the offences the burden is on the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defence does not apply [1].

The crown has the burden of disproving [1] at least one of the elements of the defence beyond a reasonable doubt: [2]. The crown has the burden of disproving at least one of the elements of the defence beyond a reasonable doubt: [1].

Justification Defenses and Just Convictions Justification Defenses and Just Convictions
Justification Defenses and Just Convictions Justification Defenses and Just Convictions
Justification Defenses and Just Convictions Justification Defenses and Just Convictions
Justification Defenses and Just Convictions Justification Defenses and Just Convictions
Justification Defenses and Just Convictions Justification Defenses and Just Convictions
Justification Defenses and Just Convictions Justification Defenses and Just Convictions
Justification Defenses and Just Convictions Justification Defenses and Just Convictions
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