How Can a Person’s Mental Health Impact a Criminal Case?

mental health

Historically, mental health has been a widely neglected subject, often met with widespread public ignorance. However, in recent years, society has developed an increased awareness of the significance and impact of mental health. With advancements in the fields of psychology and psychiatry, we have gained a better understanding of how the mind works and how it affects our behavior. That said, mental health is a crucial factor that must be taken into consideration when determining the responsibility of a person’s actions during a criminal case. If you’re facing criminal charges but have a mental health concern, contact a seasoned Baldwin County Criminal Defense Lawyer who can help protect your rights in your best interest. Please continue reading to learn how mental health can impact a criminal case.

How does mental health influence a criminal case?

Unfortunately, millions of people across the country are affected by mental health disorders, and most don’t have the resources to receive the treatment they need. When an individual is afflicted with a mental health disorder, their capacity to reason and make sound decisions may be diminished as their perception of reality is impaired. This can lead to an increased likelihood of them committing a crime. According to research, patients with mental illness may be more prone to violence if they do not receive adequate treatment. A variety of mental health disorders can influence a person’s ability to reason or think clearly. The following mental health disorders may influence a criminal case:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Major depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

If you have one of these disorders and commit a crime, depending on the specific circumstances of the case, the court may find that you would be better served by enrolling in a treatment program instead of incarceration. This typically occurs when the court finds a criminal defendant incompetent to stand trial. Ultimately, a person cannot be retired if they can’t understand the charges against them.

Is insanity a legal defense?

If you suffer from a severe mental health condition, you may be able to use the affirmative defense of insanity against your criminal charges. In an insanity defense, you are admitting to committing the crime of which you’re accused but assert a lack of guilt based on mental illness. In most cases, a successful plea of insanity will result in a verdict of not guilty and enrollment in a mental institution.

Moreover, you may be able to assert a diminished capacity defense. This is not an affirmative defense, meaning the court does not allow you to plead not guilty. Instead, you would plead to a lesser crime based on your mental capacity. Essentially, because you were not capable of having the intent to commit the original crime, you would merely be convicted of a lesser offense.

If you committed a crime and suspect that your conduct was the result of mental illness, please don’t hesitate to contact a talented criminal defense lawyer from The Law Office of James M. Burns, who can help you combat your charges.