Most of the time, when people try to defend themselves against a criminal charge, they want to prove that they did not do something. Providing an alibi or challenging state evidence gives defendants a way to show that they did not break the law.
However, sometimes, people use an affirmative defense instead when facing criminal charges. They go to court and try to prove that although they did what the prosecution claims they did, it was not a violation of the law. This approach requires an in-depth understanding of the law and the evidence for the case.
An insanity defense is one of the best-known kinds of affirmative defenses. By making claims about someone’s mental state, a defense attorney can try to absolve them of criminal liability for their actions. Will your mental health diagnosis allow you to present a mental health or insanity defense to criminal charges?
Mental health issues can complicate criminal prosecution
If you have already received a diagnosis with a significant mental health condition or if an evaluation by a professional after your arrest showed signs of severe mental illness, you may be able to use that as part of your defense strategy. The nature of the crime, the situation leading to your arrest and the symptoms you present will all influence the way you build your defense.
Mental health issues affect people’s behavior in different ways. Post-traumatic stress, for example, can lead to irrational and aggressive behavior if someone experiences a triggering event. A loud noise or a smell might lead to someone acting in an unusual and possibly dangerous manner. Someone with schizophrenia might experience a short-term break with reality because of an issue with their medication.
If you have documentation to support your claim that your mental health condition directly impacted your actions, you may have the foundation for an insanity defense. Showing that your mental health issues effectively prevented you from behaving as a rational adult, understanding the consequences of your action or forming criminal intent can be a way to defend yourself.
Exploring all of the options for your defense, including a mental health defense, can help you make the best choices when you face criminal charges.