Florida residents may remember the event that occurred in July 2012 when a man opened fire in a Colorado movie theater and killed 12 people. His defense team is attempting to use the insanity defense at his trial. If he is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be sent to a mental health facility until he is no longer thought of as a danger to society. However, it is possible that he would stay there for the rest of his life.
In the event that he is found guilty, he could be sentenced to death. Although the insanity defense has existed for a long time, it is a controversial one. Not all states allow such a plea, and it is controversial because most people assume that an individual would have to be suffering from a mental illness to decide to take another person’s life.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 61 percent of those currently incarcerated in a state prison due to a violent offense have some sort of mental health issue. Overall, 20 percent of all prison inmates have signs of a serious mental health issue. Despite these numbers, statistics indicate that the insanity defense is used only sparingly and works in only one out of every four cases when it is used.
Those who are charged with any crime may wish to talk to a criminal defense attorney. Regardless of an individual’s past criminal record, it may be possible to have a case thrown out or penalties reduced or eliminated through a plea bargain. Possible defenses to a criminal charge include the insanity defense, which in most states aims to prove that the defendant did not know that what he or she was doing was wrong at the time a crime was committed.