The Insanity Defense - Criminal Defense
Criminal defendants who use the insanity defense are said to be pleading "not guilty by reason of insanity" (NGRI).2 min read
The Insanity Defense
Criminal defendants who use the insanity defense are said to be pleading "not guilty by reason of insanity" (NGRI). It should be noted, however, that in the criminal law "insane" is often very different definition in the courts than the medical definition of "mentally ill" (though there is often some overlap). In Australia and Canada, the insanity defense has been renamed the "mental disorder" defense because of the stigma that the term "insanity" places on the defendant.
Background of the Insanity Defense
The essence of the insanity defense is that the defendant was incapable of understanding the nature of his act, that his mind was so distorted from the social norm at the time of the crime that he was incapable of conceiving common notions of right and wrong, and could not then properly have been said to have mens rea (guilty mind). In cases of liability without fault and strict liability, however, the insanity defense cannot hold because mens rea is not required to establish guilt.