Sometimes, crazy people do crazy things. Even if you were sleepwalking and committed a crime, this may be considered “temporary insanity” and you could have the charge against you dismissed. Sane people who know throughout their actions that what they are doing is wrong and is against the law are unlikely to get away with claiming insanity. Before an insanity defense is accepted by a court, there will be a need for proof that the person was of unsound mind at the time they were committing the act and were not responsible for their actions.
Someone whose attorney uses the insanity defense to avoid a criminal conviction may or may not be able to attend court or go through a trial if they are deeply disturbed. By using the insanity defense it is basically an admission of guilt for a crime that may have been committed yet also a statement that the defendant was not responsible for their actions.
If a verdict of insanity is reached, then the defendant may be considered “not guilty by reason of insanity.” This rarely means that the person would be free to go away without some sort of control measures put in place, depending on the nature of their mental condition. They may be admitted to a mental institution or released into the care of their own family, who will be entrusted with monitoring their behavior.
The use of the insanity defense depends heavily on the opinion of psychiatrists who may be asked to make professional judgments about the defendant’s mental state on behalf of both the defense attorney and the prosecution.
Well known case studies
Each case is unique and there is no hard and fast way of knowing in advance whether an insanity defense will work.
In 2010, Bruco Eastwood shot and injured two students at Deer Creek Middle School in Colorado. He was prevented from shooting any more students by a teacher and other adults. He was charged with attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm in a school and other offenses. In the trial, the insanity defense was used to have ten counts against him dismissed based on testimony from three psychiatrists who confirmed that he had had a well documented history of schizophrenia and paranoid hallucination.
In 1993, in a case that made international headlines, Lorena Bobbit cut off her husband’s penis after allegedly being raped and beaten. Bobbit was found to be not guilty as a result of temporary insanity, resulting from many years of physical and mental abuse from her husband. She was finally released after 45 days of psychiatric evaluation. The penis, incidentally, was found where Bobbit had thrown it and was successfully reattached.
In 1981 in Scottsdale, Arizona, Steven Steinberg stabbed his wife 26 times with a knife. His prosecution for murder was badly botched by Scottsdale police and his attorney was able to have his charge dismissed by reason of temporary insanity. Steinberg claimed that he must have been sleepwalking at the time he had killed his wife. Psychiatric opinion concurred that this was possible.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you may not have been insane at the time, but by reading cases such as those above should persuade you that having an experienced criminal defense attorney working on your behalf is the best chance you have of having a charge dismissed. Contact Miami based criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes, Esq. at his office at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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