In California, if the defendant uses the insanity defense, he or she needs to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence. If the court finds the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity, he or she will be subjected to a psyachtric facility until this person stops being a threat to society. In California, we use M’Naghten test in order to determine the insanity of the defendant. The M’Naghten test’s main idea is to establish whether the defendant is capable to differ “right and wrong”.
M’Naghten test is incorporated into California Penal Code 25(b) PC. It states that “in any criminal proceeding, including any juvenile court proceeding, in which a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity is entered, this defense shall be found by the trier of fact only when the accused person proves by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she was incapable of knowing or understanding the nature and quality of his or her act and of distinguishing right from wrong at the time of the commission of the offense.”
Thus, the defendant is legally insane if:
– While the offender was committing the crime, he or she had a mental disease or defect;
– That disease or defect was the cause that the offender did not know or understand the nature and quality of his or her act or did not know or understand that his or her act was morally or legally wrong.
If the defendant meets the M’Naghten test requirements, it does not matter how long the period of insanity was lasting (a few hours or a few months).
It should be noted that none of the following can be qualified as mental disease or defect for purposes of an insanity defense:
– personality disorder;
– adjustment disorder;
– seizure disorder;
– an abnormality of personality or character made apparent only by a series of criminal or antisocial acts;
– addiction to or recent use abuse of drugs or intoxicants.
If the jury finds that the defendant was sane, he or she will be punished by penalty stated by law for convicted offense. Otherwise, the insane person will be sent for treatment to a state mental hospital. When the person stops representing threat to society, or doctors believe that the sanity is restored, or maximum term of imprisonment is expired, he or she can be released from the institution.
Do you think you or a loved one were insane while committing a crime in California?
The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. The charges of the prosecution are only allegations. We always conduct a deep legal research on accusations to determine how we must attack their validity. Do not hesitate to contact us!
You may file your request online, by telephone or by mail. 818-553-1000