In most criminal cases, a person pleads either guilty or not guilty to the crime or crimes of which they were accused. When criminal defendants plead guilty, they will be sentenced by the court, and when they plead not guilty, the case will proceed to trial where the prosecution will try establish its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
There are other options, however, including pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. This plea means that the defendant admits that he or she committed the crime of which he or she is accused but should not be held culpable due to a mental defect at the time the crime was committed.
The insanity defense is one of the most misunderstood legal defenses and there are many misconceptions about the way it operates. Here are some things that any criminal defendant considering raising an insanity defense should be aware of:
- The Case Will Still Go to Trial – Pleading not guilty by reason of insanity is often confused with the argument that a person is unfit to stand trial at all. When you plead not guilty by reason by insanity, you are alerting the court to the fact that you intend to introduce evidence that will establish that your criminal actions were the result of a mental disorder at the time of the incident. As a result, the case will still proceed to trial.
- Insanity is Difficult to Prove – Jurors are often unsympathetic to an insanity defense, as it can often seem like a person who is currently in their right mind is opportunistically claiming that they were mentally ill at the time of the crime to avoid punishment.
- If it is Successful, You May Still Face Serious Consequences – Even if you successfully plead not guilty by reason of insanity, you may still be ordered to confinement in a mental institution, sometimes for a significant period of time. In some cases, this confinement may be longer than the incarceration that you would have faced had you accepted a plea bargain for a guilty plea.
Call 732-238-8686 today for more information.
If you are facing a criminal case in New Jersey, you should speak to an attorney immediately. Criminal defense lawyer David C. Barry will thoroughly review your case and determine if you have any legal defenses you may be able to assert. To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Barry, call us today at 732-238-8686 or contact us online.