Opera Singer Will Plead Insanity in Vehicular Assault Case

A Connecticut opera singer who drove her SUV toward a Mar-a-Lago barrier and assaulted a deputy will plead insanity at her prosecution. Hannah Roemhild is charged with assaulting a federal officer with a deadly weapon (her SUV). Since the officer was a federal officer, she will face federal charges for the crime.

In addition to assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, she also faces two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, and one count of resisting arrest without violence.

According to her attorney, Roemhild was suffering from a severe mental illness at the time of the assault and was unable to appreciate the reality of her actions or their wrongness.

What Happened?

An off-duty highway patrol officer who was working security at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach reported seeing a woman dancing on the hood of her vehicle. Instead of leaving the woman alone because she wasn’t breaking any law, they approached her. Roemhild got back into her vehicle, fled quickly, and led two police cruisers on a high-speed chase. Roemhild eventually drove her SUV through two security checkpoints injuring exactly no one.

Who is Responsible for This?

I’d argue that the police officer who attempted to detain the woman without probable cause initiated the chain of events that led to a high-speed chase that jeopardized the lives of other police officers. While it could be argued that the woman was acting aberrantly, it cannot be argued that the woman was acting illegally. So there was no reason to approach or detain the woman in the first place. The police are responsible for everything that came after.

Of course, they don’t see it that way and neither do federal prosecutors. But since the woman was detained for not breaking a law, it’s going to be hard to convince a jury that she acted with criminal malice. The police spooked a psychotic woman and then tried to kill her as she blew through security barriers. Had they left her alone, none of that would have happened.

Insanity Defenses to Federal Charges

You can plead insanity, but generally, the plea does not result in an acquittal. If a defendant is found sane enough to stand trial, they can still plead that they were not responsible because of their state of mind at the time. In that case, the defendant may be remanded to a psychiatric facility until doctors believe that she is ready to go back into civilized society. There is no term for holding a suspect in a psychiatric ward, however. So defendants sometimes run the risk of ending up in a psych ward far longer than their prison sentence.

Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a serious crime, the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. can help defend you from the charges, getting them reduced, dismissed, or acquittal at trial. Call today to learn more about how we can help.



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