Insanity Plea Statistics

According to recent insanity plea statistics, there has been a significant increase in insanity defense cases across the country. The insanity defense allows a mentally ill person to avoid conviction and being imprisoned from the crime that he/she committed on the assumptions that he/she is not mentally capable of distinguishing right from wrong and therefore were not aware that they were committing a crime.

History of Insanity Plea

The idea that mentally ill people should not be held liable for the crime they have committed dated back during the Roman Empire, if not earlier. The “not guilty by reason of insanity” of NGRI verdict rests in two assumptions: the treatment of the defendant can help the society than conviction to a jail term without treatment, and mentally ill people cannot be threatened by the punishment for the crime they did.

It is highly important that you understand that ‘insanity’ is a legal term, and not psychological. Even experts disagree whether insanity has psychological meaning. Critics of NGRI often point out that insanity plea statistics have been rapidly increasing because many sane defendants use NGRI as an excuse to escape conviction for the wrongful act that they have done.

The Current Law

The primary problem in discussing the NGRI is that there are 51 types of the insanity defense in the U.S.: one for federal law and one for each set of state laws. Some of the states in the country allow the insanity defense because of the defendants’ lack of awareness that the things they have done were against the law (often called literally guilty mind, or mens era) or lack of the ability to resist their urge to commit a crime (guilt act, or actus rea). Other estates only recognize mens era defenses, and disregard actus era defenses.

Statistics of Insanity Plea Defense

According to recent insanity plea statistics, successful insanity defenses are rare. The rates vary from state-to-state, but on average, less than 1 defendant in 100-0.85% actually raises the NGRI defense nationwide. Ironically, estates with higher cases of NGRI defenses have lower success rates for NGRI defenses. The percentage of NGRI defenses success rates remains constant at around 0.26 percent.

Insanity plea statistics reveals that almost 70% of NGRI defendants withdrew their defense on insanity plea when their respective state appointed experts found out that they are legally sane persons. In states where there are successful NGRI defenses, the court declared that the defendant was incompetent to stand trial or charges against them were dropped. High profile NGRI defendants can hire team of experts and inflame the case, but they were rare.

Issues with the Insanity Plea Law

Although the NGRI is legal, there are some problems that have emerged into it. The regulations concerning who is eligible to testify as the sanity of the accused person are highly inconsistent from state to state. According to one national survey, only 60% of all states in America require an expert witness in NGRI findings is a psychologist or be a psychiatrist, less than 20% require additional certifications, and only 125 require psychological tests. Therefore, qualified experts witnesses vary from state-to-state.

The NGRI plea has many benefits to the part of the defendant. Primarily, the defendant is free in the insanity plea was approved by the law, but if the defendant was convicted and proven mentally ill, the state will be treated with his/her mental illness.