March 12, 2018
Mental health has been a big topic in the news lately. Arguments range from those wanting mental health checks before gun licenses are given, to others wishing the United States to do a “better job” at recognizing and caring for mental illnesses.
Mental illness is often a topic of conversation surrounding criminal cases as well. You’ve probably seen more than a few movies and TV shows in which a man claims he didn’t commit a crime consciously, and he is allowed to leave with no jail time. Instead, only a “brief stay” in an institution is required. This seems like a big Hollywood version of a reward. These movies make it seem like the right and simple thing to do when one is accused of a crime, resulting in an easy “out.” However, we know it’s not so easy and one truly does not get off scot-free.
Each state treats the insanity defense very differently. Texas recognizes it and allows it to be used in criminal cases, while other states like Kansas and Montana do not. Texas follows the M’Naghten rule, which essentially states that one cannot be punished traditionally for a crime if they are found to have not criminally intended to commit that crime. Determining one’s mental state, however, is not an easy task. In order to prove lack of intent for this crime under this test, the defense team has to prove that the defendant does in fact have a mental illness and that it inhibited his or her ability to control his or her behavior under the law.
The Hollywood version of the insanity defense typically shows mentally healthy people who go through a temporary period of psychosis or a “mysterious” ailment. In Texas, one typically has to have a consistent and advanced mental illness for the insanity defense to be permitted.
In the event you need to plea insanity, medical professionals who specialize in diagnosing these types of illnesses will conduct tests and expert witnesses will testify during the trial.
Here’s the kicker: you are essentially admitting guilt with an insanity plea. The facts of the case are that you committed a crime, but your intention was not to commit that crime. If you are deemed able to understand the difference between right and wrong at the time of your crime, you risk automatically throwing yourself in the guilty ring.
As you can see, pleading insanity in a criminal case is far more difficult and risky than anything in pop culture has made it out to be. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime and this defense is being used, you need an attorney that understands the intricacies of the insanity plea.
For a free, confidential consultation contact the Law Offices of Daniel & Hudson at 210-222-2297. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.