The Insanity Plea: A defense asserted by an accused criminal prosecution to avoid liability for the commission of a crime because, at the time of the crime, the person did not appreciate the nature or quality or wrongfulness of the acts.
Many individuals are aware of the process that lawyers go through to convict an individual. The prosecution has to prove a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a crime. Since The Fifth Amendment states that a defendant is not compelled to under oath criminate themselves, many people attempt to plead temporary insanity. However in most cases the defendant want the chance to prove their innocent in court by having a defense. The most known defense for heinous crimes is the insanity plea. The Insanity plea is known throughout the world but what is it really? What rules are used in determining if one is mentally insane or not? What persons qualified for the insanity defense? In what states are people allowed to use the insanity plea?
People vs. Hickman, Calif., 268 Pac. Constitutionality of 1927 statue establishing new procedure where a plea of insanity is entered. Prior to 1927, there were four kinds of pleas open to a defendant: A plea of (1) guilty, (2) not guilty, (3) a former judgment of convections or acquittal (The defendant had to be found or proven not guilty by a jury or judge) and (4) once in jeopardy (person charged with crime, who has once already, by legal proceedings, been put in danger of conviction or punishment for the same offense.). In 1927, the Legislature added another plea. (5) Not guilty by reason of insnity. A defendant, who does not plead not guilty by reason of insanity, shall be conclusively presumed to have been sane at the time of the commission of the offense charged, provided that the court may (for good cause shown) allow a change of plea at any time before the commencement of the trial. (American Psychological Association, 1928)
A defendant, who pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, without also pleading not guilty, thereby admits the commission of the offense charged. Section 1017 of the Penal Code was amended to provide that if the defendant pleads “not guilty by reason of insanity”, such a plea shall be entered upon minutes of the trial court substantially in the following form: “The defendant pleads the (s)he is not guilty off the offense charged because (s)he was insane at the time that (s)he was alleged to have committed the unlawful acts.” (American Psychological Association, 1928)
At the same time, there was added a new section to the code, in part reading as follows: “When a defendant pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, and also joins with another plea or pleas, (s)he shall be conclusively presumed to have been sane at the time the offense is alleged to have been committed. (Sec. 1026) If the jury shall fond the defendant guilty or if the defendant pleads only not guilty by reason of insanity, then the question whether the defendant was sane or insane at the time the offense was committed shall be promptly tried, either before the same or a new jury. In such trial, the jury decides if the defendant was insane or not during the time. If the verdict or finding be that the defendant was sane at the time, the offense was committed; the court shall sentence the defendant as provided by law.” (American Psychological Association, 1928)
Once finally in place, the insanity plea had to have some standards for whether a person could plead guilty or not. They had to prove themselves insane. The rules that these people have to comply with actually came from crimes themselves. 1. The M’Naghten Standard 2. The Durham Standard 3. The MPC Standard 4. American Law Institute Test
The first legal test for insanity came from the M’Naghten case. Englishman Daniel M’Naghten shot and killed the secretary of the British prime minister,