Insanity Defense Quiz

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What is the insanity defense?

Who is responsible for evaluating a defendant's mental health for the insanity defense?

What is the volitional limb?

What does non compos mentis mean?

What is the burden of proof for the defense of mental illness?

What is the Model Penal Code test?

What is the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984?

What is the burden of proving insanity in the U.S.?

What is the difference between competency and criminal responsibility?


Insanity Defense and Legal Concepts Regarding Defendants' State of Mind

  • Insanity defense is an affirmative defense by excuse in a criminal case, arguing that the defendant is not responsible for their actions due to a psychiatric disease at the time of the criminal act.

  • The defense is based on evaluations by forensic mental health professionals with the appropriate test according to the jurisdiction.

  • Some jurisdictions require the evaluation to address the defendant's ability to control their behavior at the time of the offense (the volitional limb).

  • Non compos mentis is a legal term meaning "not of sound mind".

  • Legal definitions of insanity or mental disorder are varied, and include the M'Naghten Rule, the Durham rule, the 1953 British Royal Commission on Capital Punishment report, the ALI rule, and other provisions.

  • The United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States use of the defense is rare.

  • Mitigating factors, including things not eligible for the insanity defense such as intoxication and partial defenses such as diminished capacity and provocation, are used more frequently.

  • Competency largely deals with the defendant's present condition, while criminal responsibility addresses the condition at the time the crime was committed.

  • The notion of temporary insanity argues that a defendant was insane during the commission of a crime, but they later regained their sanity after the criminal act was carried out.

  • Diminished responsibility or diminished capacity can be employed as a mitigating factor or partial defense to crimes.

  • Depending on jurisdiction, circumstances, and crime, intoxication may be a defense, a mitigating factor, or an aggravating factor.

  • Those found to have been not guilty by reason of mental disorder or insanity are generally then required to undergo psychiatric treatment in a mental institution in the United States, except in the case of temporary insanity.

  • In England and Wales, under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act of 1991, the court can mandate a hospital order, a restriction order, a "supervision and treatment" order, or an absolute discharge.Overview of the Insanity Defense in Various Countries

  • The insanity defense is a legal defense used in criminal cases to argue that the defendant should not be held criminally responsible for their actions due to a mental illness or defect.

  • The burden of proof for the defense of mental illness lies on the party raising the issue of the defense, and it must be proven on the balance of probabilities.

  • In Australia, the M'Naghten Rules have been further qualified, and a 'defect of reason, from a disease of the mind' is required for the defense to be applicable.

  • In Canada, the defense of mental disorder is codified in section 16 of the Criminal Code, and a Review Board is responsible for assessing accused persons found NCR or unfit to stand trial on account of mental disorder.

  • In Denmark, a person who commits a criminal offense due to a mental illness or similar condition is declared guilty but is sentenced to mandatory treatment instead of prison.

  • In Finland, punishments can only be administered if the accused is sound of mind; not if the accused is insane. The court must consult the National Institute for Health and Welfare if an accused is suspected to be insane.

  • In Germany, those who commit an illegal act due to a mental disorder that makes them unable to see the wrong of the act or act on this insight are considered not guilty.

  • In Japan, if the ability to recognize the right or wrong of action or the ability to act accordingly is lost due to a mental disorder, then the defendant cannot be pursued under Japanese criminal law.

  • In the Netherlands, an inculpability defense can be used if the defendant is deemed to have a deficient development or pathological disorder of their mental faculties. If the defense succeeds, the defendant cannot be ordered to incarceration proper.

  • In Norway, psychotic perpetrators are declared guilty but not punished and are sentenced to mandatory treatment instead of prison.

  • In Poland, insanity is determined through a judicial decision issued on the basis of expert opinions of psychiatrists and psychologists.

  • In Russia, a forensic psychiatric examination is used to establish insanity, and a person who was in a state of insanity at the time of the illegal act is not subject to criminal liability.

  • In Sweden, psychotic perpetrators are seen as accountable, but the sanction is forensic mental care.

  • In the United Kingdom, the use of the insanity defense is rare, but insanity pleas have steadily increased since the Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991.

  • In the United States, the availability of the insanity defense varies between states and the federal court system, and the burden of proof and legal standards for the defense also vary. The Supreme Court has ruled that a person cannot be held indefinitely for psychiatric treatment following a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.The Insanity Defense: Understanding the Relationship between Criminal Culpability and Mental Illness

  • The insanity defense is defined and varies by state and the federal court system.

  • The M'Naghten Rule is a widely used test that defines legal responsibility in cases of insanity in England, and it was embraced with almost no modification by American courts and legislatures for more than 100 years, until the mid-20th century.

  • The Durham/New Hampshire test is broader than the M'Naghten test or the irresistible impulse test, and it allows a defendant to be acquitted if the crime was the product of their mental illness.

  • The Model Penal Code test serves as a compromise between the strict M'Naghten Rule, the lenient Durham ruling, and the irresistible impulse test.

  • The Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984 shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense and increased the standard of evidence in federal trials from a preponderance of evidence to clear and convincing evidence.

  • Those acquitted of a federal offense by reason of insanity have not been able to challenge their psychiatric confinement through a writ of habeas corpus or other remedies.

  • In some jurisdictions, a defendant may plead guilty but mentally ill as an alternative to the insanity defense.

  • The burden of proving insanity is placed on the defendant in a majority of states, on the prosecution in a minority of states, and on the defendant in federal court.

  • Some U.S. states have begun to ban the use of the insanity defense.

  • The insanity defense is complicated because of the underlying differences in philosophy between psychiatrists/psychologists and legal professionals.

  • Mental health professionals provide testimony and professional opinion but are not ultimately responsible for answering legal questions.

  • The use of the insanity plea is rare in the U.S Criminal Justice System, and little is known about the criminal justice system and the mentally ill.


Test your knowledge on the insanity defense and legal concepts surrounding defendants' state of mind with this informative quiz. Learn about the different types of insanity defense, legal definitions of mental illness, and the burden of proof for the defense. Explore how various countries approach the insanity defense and understand the relationship between criminal culpability and mental illness. Whether you're a law student or simply interested in the topic, this quiz is sure to challenge and educate you.

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