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The Insanity Defense in the State of Florida

From time to time, criminal defense attorneys are faced with the reality that their client should plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Television shows and movies glorify this type of plea, but it’s not exactly a simply solution in the courtroom. This is not a Band-Aid defense strategy that will help clients get an easy plea bargain. This is a complex defense that is given thought and intense investigation before presenting in court. There are many things that must be proven if you plan to plead not guilty by reason of insanity in the State of Florida.

What is the Insanity Defense?

The insanity defense is not simply stating that you are not guilty of the crime. This defense actually requires that a person admit to wrongdoing, but not understanding the impact of those actions.  It is admitting that you committed the crime, but you were not capable of understanding the implications or severity of the crime due to your mental state. And you have to go a step further than saying you were insane; you actually have to be prepared to prove it.

A client can make this plea if they were temporarily insane or if they suffer from a mental illness that makes it impossible for them to understand implications of their crime. Essentially, you are stating that you were at least insane during the crime and therefore should not be held legally responsible.

How Do the Courts Determine Insanity?

In the State of Florida, there are a few key points that must be met in order for an insanity defense to hold up. The following must be proven:

  • The person was unable to understand the consequences of their actions due to mental defect.
  • The person was unable to distinguish between right and wrong.
  • The accused move prove their mental status through professional evaluation.

Once the defendant is able to prove that they inconsistencies with their mental stability, then it is up to the prosecution to prove that the accused had no mental problem during the crime. Essentially, the burden shifts from the defense to the prosecution.

Diminished Capacity

If there is no way to prove insanity, then some attorneys offer the diminished capacity defense. However, in this scenario the accused admits to the crime, but they claim that their actions were based on impulse rather than their typical everyday response to a particular situation. It must be noted that the State of Florida does not recognize the diminished capacity defense unless it includes points from an insanity defense.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Scott Skier is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney located in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has years of experience serving clients and aggressively providing quality defense in the courtroom. If you or someone you know needs assistance with a criminal case, reach out to Attorney Skier. He is available to discuss your case in a free, no obligation consultation. He has worked on a wide range of cases that have touched on most criminal-related charges. Allow his years of experience to work for you!

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