Dedicated Texas Criminal Defender

Is mental illness really a defense for criminal acts?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2022 | Criminal defense

If you or someone you know has a mental illness, you know the fine line that you’re walking when you excuse behaviors that took place when someone was mentally ill. Many people can and do make good decisions in their lives despite mental illnesses, so is it really reasonable to excuse some people when mental illness plays a role in criminal offenses?

Simply put, no two people are the same and mental illness can be a cause of criminal actions in some cases. Not all mental illnesses are the same. Not all medications work the same way for different people, either. In some cases, mental illness is a reasonable factor to take into consideration and one that could result in someone walking away without penalties.

Insanity pleas could be beneficial in court

Sometimes, the insanity plea can be helpful. Depending on the kind of mental illness a person is struggling with, they may not think through their actions. They may attempt to take their own life by causing a serious collision, for example, or might attack someone when they’re unable to differentiate between reality and their own imagination.

It’s unreasonable to hold someone accountable for their actions when they were not truly in control. With the insanity plea, a person is not punished for a crime, but they do admit to doing it.

Sometimes, an insanity plea doesn’t result in a “not guilty” result, but it can help minimize the legal penalties that a person faces. It may also open the door to other opportunities for seeking help, such as going through mental health treatment rather than being jailed or imprisoned.

Even without taking the insanity defense, you may be able to show how your mental illness played a role in your case in the past and why it should be considered when a judge or jury is considering penalizing you. When approached the right way, your case could be helped by reviewing your mental illness and how it influences your daily life and experiences. That’s something to think about as you start working on your defense.