The Defense Of The Insanity Defense Essay

1960 Words May 3rd, 2015 null Page
When people think of shows like Law and Order, or movies involving heinous crimes that seem unfathomable by anyone who could possibly think clearly, the most common depicted defense tends to be “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.” This is known as the insanity defense and it is a claim that the defendant cannot be held responsible for their actions due to a psychiatric illness or metal handicap (Fletcher, 1998). Television shows and movies tend to exaggerate this defense leading people to think that it is widely and frequently used when in reality, it is extremely rare in the United States and difficult to be proven in trials. Records show that 1% of US cases utilize the Insanity Defense, and of those cases, only 26% of them are successful (PBS). The Insanity Defense is a highly controversial form of defense and there are many opinions that surround the cases that use this defense; however, each case and defendant is different and success or failure of this defense can be attributed to the background of the defendant or facts surrounding the case.

The insanity defense dates back to 1581 in an English legal treatise that stated that, ”If a madman or a natural fool, or a lunatic in the time of his lunacy kills someone, they cannot be held accountable” (Findlaw). Following this, the British courts invented the “wild beast” test in the 18th Century that stated defendants could not be convicted if the understood the crime no more than “an infant, a brute, or a wild beast”…

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