Ask a Lawyer and Get Answers to Your Legal Questions

Ask a Lawyer, Get an Answer ASAP!

Insanity Defense Questions

Insanity defenses are generally used by defendants involved in criminal trials in an attempt to avoid prosecution for a crime. The basis for this defense is that the person was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of the act during the time of the crime. Cognitive insanity appears to be the most common type of insanity defense. When being tested for cognitive insanity, a defendant must show that they were unable to acknowledge the severity of the act, or that the act itself was wrong. Most states allow defendants to claim the cognitive insanity defense. Below are a few of the more common insanity defense questions that have been answered by Experts.

Anti-social disorder cannot be used in an insanity defense in New York, butis major depressive disorder like anti-social disorder?

In order to use the insanity defense, a person would have to be seriously ill. A person who is clinically insane or has mental issues probably wouldn't benefit from using the insanity defense. Guilty but mentally ill (GBMI) or Guilty but insane Verdict is a ruling used by a judge when although the defendant has a mental illness, the court believes the person should be held accountable for their actions.

While the insanity defense is used on a wide scale, it is hard to get an insanity defense to work. There are tests used to determine a person's mental capacity. Each state uses its own tests with the four most common ones are: The M'Naghten, the irresistible impulse test, the Durham test and the Brawner test.

The modified M'Naghten test is a test that New York conducts to determine if the person has the ability to distinguish right from wrong and if the person has the ability to control the impulse to act on their notions. Based on the test that New York uses, it is very doubtful that you could use major depression as an insanity defense.

Why are you held so long on an insanity defense?

Usually, unless the defendant has committed a minor crime that was non-violent and holds no threat to the public, they are ordered by the court to a mental health facility. This is true even if the person has been proven not guilty by reason of insanity. Once at the facility, the person is treated and will not be released until the mental health board at the facility determines that the person will function in society. This can be done on their own or with the help from family or a legal guardian.

Is the insanity defense allowed in revocation of probation cases?

The insanity defense is also known as an "Affirmative Defense" and generally doesn't do well for a parole revocation hearing. The insanity defense works for rebutting certain criminal charges such as premeditated murder. Premeditated murder requires specific intent to kill someone after thinking the act through. A person could prove that they were mentally unstable at the time the crime was committed which would remove the intent. This would generally find the person not guilty on the charge.

The reason this will not work for a parole revocation hearing is;

The parole hearing isn't a criminal trial. This means the rules for a trial do not apply to this hearing.

Another reason is, even if the person had to prove intent during the parole hearing and could use the insanity defense; they wouldn't be allowed to just walk out. The person would be sent to a mental facility and held until they were found to no longer be mentally ill (insane). In a situation like that, the stay at the mental facility could far outlast the prison sentence. For these reasons, the insanity defense is rarely used unless it pertains to a murder case.

Does the State of Georgia recognize the defense of diminished mental capacity in a trial?

Every state has some type of insanity defense. Diminished Capacity is one of the types of insanity defense. This form of insanity defense states that while not insane, the person does have a mental illness that reduces the person's ability to make proper decisions. This form of insanity defense has been used with autistic defendants who have committed crimes. The result of using this insanity defense has had varying outcomes.

If your plan is to use this form of defense, you must clear it through the court before the trial. You can't just drop this on the court at the beginning of the trial. There are set times in which a person can notify the court of this type of defense so you may want to check with your attorney and/or the court.

But to answer the original question, this type of defense has been used to attempt to lessen an offense or even attempt a "not guilty" finding.

Georgia does accept and allows "Guilty but Mentally Ill" (GBMI) findings.

While there is a need for this defense, some people try to abuse this option to avoid harsher sentences. If you are a person with mental issues or you know of someone who has mental health issues and may be facing charges for a crime, you should ask an Expert for legal assistance.
Please type your question in the field below

7 verified Lawyers are online now

Lawyers on JustAnswer are verified through an extensive 8-step process including screening of licenses, certifications, education and/or employment. Learn more



Doctoral Degree

8775 positive reviews

Counselor at Law

Juris Doctor

24353 positive reviews


Doctoral Degree

20727 positive reviews
See all Lawyers
JustAnswer in the news:
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
Web sites like
...leave nothing to chance.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.