Mental disease or defect such that causes person:
  • 1. Doesn’t know right from wrong OR
  • 2. Nature & quality of act
Right from wrong (cognitive test) supplemented with irresistible impulse (volition test).
  • When does this reach legal standing to meet the legally defined test of legal insanity?
  • Durham test in NH and DC: crime the product of the mental disease
    • Problem: What is a product? Carte blanche for psychiatrists, no clear standards.
  • MPC: Diamond, p. 840: different from older M’Naughten test.
    • Substantial capacity, but no absolute incapacity to appreciate right from wrong or control one’s conduct.
Temporary insanity not a legal concept—were you legally insane WHEN YOU COMMITTED THE CRIME?

4-5 states have no insanity defense.
  • Legal insanity is a defense, different from mental illness (smaller proportion are legally insane).
  • Standard has changed—once M’Naighten—absolute, purely cognitive.
  • Now shift towards ALA/MPC, now M’Naughten national standard again.
  • Some states propose eliminating "right from wrong" and leaving "nature & quality of the act" only.
  • Burden on defendant to prove.
  • Before criminal trial, defendant must be competent to stand trial—if cannot assist counsel, then cannot be tried—they are then held in civil detention until sane enough to be tried or are never released.
  • To prove crime, must also prove mental elements (such as intent to deprive property of another, or premeditation)—insanity may mean person simply hasn't committed crime.
  • If state has removed insanity defense, still cannot be convicted if they lack mens rea for a crime.
    • Or may go to jail and go to a prison mental hospital.
  • Calif: M’Naughten test.
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