Mental Illness Defense
Of all the criminal defense approaches seen in U.S. courts, very few are at the heart of as much controversy as pleas of insanity or mental illness. Everyone seems to hold a different opinion on where exactly the line between informed, aware action and delusion lies. Even given the provisions in many state codes regarding criminal intent that make room for such cases, juries have traditionally proven notoriously difficult to persuade.
This is due in large part to fundamental misunderstandings that many people have regarding what constitutes mental illness. We often assume that if someone is capable of following rational lines of thought in basic areas – from obeying traffic lights to plotting out crimes in precise detail – that he or she is “in touch” enough with reality to have full knowledge and responsibility for his or her actions.
In truth, the human mind is an infinitely complex force, and it is in no way impossible for the same person who goes to a 9-to-5 job every day to not be struggling with potentially life-threatening thoughts and plans. The basic idea behind a defense of mental illness is that these thoughts and plans exist without the person being capable of appreciating what they mean in moral or legal terms – essentially, the inability to realize what they are doing on a level of humanity.
The defense of mental illness is a tough one to argue effectively, since it brings up so many questions of morality and psychology. The idea that someone’s state of mind may explain his or her behavior without necessarily excusing it greatly complicates an already difficult issue.
However, when enough evidence exists, this case may still be made. Contact the experienced San Jose criminal attorneys at the law offices of Daniel Jensen, P.C. today by calling (408) 296-4100 for information on your particular circumstances.