For a conviction to occur in a criminal case, the prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the act in question with the required intent. The defendant is not required to present a defense but can force the government to prove its case. However, several possible defenses are available to defendants, including insanity.
DIRECTIONS: Therefore, it is your objective to review the (6) scenarios provided and determine which of the insanity defenses (the M'Naghten Rule, the Irresistible Impulse test, the Durham Test, Substantial Capacity) are applicable.
EXAMPLE RESPONSE: Susan wants to marry a single man, but he does not want the responsibility of caring for her children. Susan decides to kill her children. She drives her two sons, aged three and five, out to the lake. She puts the car in park, gets out, and then puts it in gear, watching as it drives into the water. Both of her sons drown. Later that day, Susan files a police report stating that a stranger kidnapped her children at gunpoint. While searching the area for the kidnapper, the police discover the children's bodies and evidence indicating that Susan killed them. Susan recants her kidnapping story and admits she killed her children. However, she claims she is not guilty by reason of insanity.
Insane or not? Guilt or not? Which rule applies, if at all applicable?
Susan's claim will probably not be successful if she killed her children in a jurisdiction that recognizes the M'Naghten insanity defense. Susan tried to mislead the police, demonstrating her awareness that she had done something wrong. Thus, although Susan's behavior appears mentally imbalanced, she clearly knew the difference between right and wrong, and her conduct is not excusable under M'Naghten's rigid requirements. - legally sane and responsible for the charges
QUESTIONS - Answer the following:
1. Jolene, who has been diagnosed with paranoia, decides she must cut off all her sorority sisters' hair because they are "out to get her." She drives to the sorority house with a Taser and scissors in her backpack. Her plan is to subdue each sister with the stun gun and then hack off her hair. As she arrives at the house, she sees Agnes, one of her sorority sisters, trip and fall in the parking lot, ripping her cashmere sweater and scraping her chin. Feeling a stab of pity, Jolene ignores Agnes and walks hurriedly toward the building. As she enters, Ashley, another sorority sister, turns, scowls at Jolene, and barks, "What in the world are you wearing? You look like you just rolled out of bed!" Jolene pulls the stun gun out of her backpack and shoots Ashley. While Ashley is lying on the floor, Jolene takes out the scissors and cuts Ashley's hair off at the scalp. Jolene claims she is not guilty for assault and battery of Ashley by reason of insanity. Insane or not? Guilt or not? Which rule applies, if at all applicable?
2. Loreen has been diagnosed with psychosis and spent most of her life in a mental hospital. While at the mental hospital, Loreen made friends with many of the patients and health-care personnel. From time to time, Loreen would play jokes on these friends. Most of these "jokes" consisted of putting her antidepressants into their food. Loreen was always reprimanded and often sternly punished for these escapades. After her release from the mental hospital at age twenty-one, Loreen falls in love with Aidan, a man who works in a bookstore near her apartment. Loreen decides to make Aidan fall in love with her by feeding him a magic potion, which she concocts out of a mixture of her antidepressants. Loreen buys a book from Aidan and casually asks if he would like her to buy him a coffee. Aidan shrugs and says, "Sure, but I don't have a break for another two hours." Loreen offers to bring him the coffee. Before bringing the drink to Aidan, she puts her "magic potion" in it. While Aidan is sipping the coffee, Loreen declares her love for him. She then states, "I know I shouldn't have, but I put a love potion in your coffee. I hope it doesn't hurt you." Aidan becomes seriously ill after drinking the coffee and is hospitalized. Loreen claims she is not guilty for battering Aidan by reason of insanity. Insane or not? Guilt or not? Which rule applies, if at all applicable?
3. Arianna has been diagnosed with paranoia. Most psychiatric experts agree that individuals afflicted with paranoia unreasonably believe that the human population is "out to get them." Arianna works under the direct supervision of Nora, who has a physical condition called "walleye." Nora's walleye makes it appear that she is looking to the side when she addresses people. Arianna gradually becomes convinced that Nora is communicating secret messages to their coworkers when she is speaking to Arianna. Arianna is genuinely frightened that Nora is telling their coworkers to kill her, and she decides she needs to defend herself. Arianna brings a gun to work one day, and when Nora begins talking to her about her tendency to take overlong lunches, Arianna pulls the gun out of her cubicle and shoots and kills Nora. Arianna claims she is not guilty for killing Nora by reason of insanity. Insane or not? Guilt or not? Which rule applies, if at all applicable?
4. Andrea, a diagnosed schizophrenic, drowns five of her young children in the bathtub. Andrea promptly phones 911 and tells the operator that her children are dead. The operator dispatches an emergency call to law enforcement. When law enforcement officers arrive at Andrea's house, she informs them that she killed her children so that they could leave this earth and enter heaven. Andrea thereafter claims she is not guilty for killing her children by reason of insanity. Insane or not? Guilty or not? Which rule applies, if at all applicable?
5. Jeffrey is diagnosed with schizophrenia. For fifteen years, Jeffrey kidnaps, tortures, kills, and eats human victims. Jeffrey avoids detection by hiding his victims' corpses in various locations throughout the city. If the jurisdiction in which Jeffrey commits these crimes recognizes the M'Naghten insanity defense, can Jeffrey successfully plead and prove insanity? Why or why not?
6. Read State v. Hornsby, 484 S.E.2d 869 (1997). In Hornsby, the defendant sought to reverse his convictions for burglary and murder after jury verdicts of guilty but mentally ill. The defendant wanted to invalidate South Carolina's statute recognizing the verdict of guilty but mentally ill as unconstitutional. The defendant claimed that defendants incarcerated after guilty but mentally ill verdicts receive the same mental health treatment as defendants incarcerated under regular guilty verdicts, violating the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause. Did the Supreme Court of South Carolina uphold the statute? Do you agree or disagree with the courts ruling based on your understanding of the insanity defense? The case is available at this link: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13615864613799310547&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr.
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