Mental Competence and Crime
The lack of mental competence can be broken down into two categories that have relevance to criminal culpability. The categories are competency and sanity. Competency is a legal question that entails the ability to understand the nature of the charges and the ability to assist in a defense. The issue of sanity focuses on the state of mind the accused possessed at the time the act was committed It is in the nature of an affirmative defense to raise the issue of whether or not the accused possessed the required criminal mental state at the time the act was committed. Unlike competence, insanity is a question of fact for a jury to determine. The consequence of an insanity finding is generally a civil commitment to the least restrictive alternative (for example, mental hospital and treatment facility) until the court finds the person is no longer a danger to himself or others.
In your main post, complete the following:
- Describe the test for insanity in your state, citing statutory or case law.
- Explain which party bears the burden of proof in your state once the defendant introduces some evidence of insanity.
- Analyze whether you think the test in your state adequately protects the public and the defendant’s rights.
- Evaluate the importance of understanding the procedural and substantive facets of the defense.