Mental Health Defense Your Voice Needs to Be Heard, Your Rights Need to Be Protected, Your Future Depends on It.

The Mental Health Defense

How to Plead Mental Insanity in West Palm Beach

One kind of defense against a criminal charge is the mental health defense. If you have been accused of a crime and would like more information on the standards for pleading mental insanity, you need an experienced and aggressive defense attorney to examine and build your case. The Law Offices of Nellie L. King, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida can help. Attorney King will take a personalized approach to your case and frame applicable state-specific criteria for mental health defense around your circumstances. As she gets to know each of her clients one-on-one, she will build a defense strategy that is both tenacious and compassionate. After all, each person has a story, and as a former public defender, Attorney King will make sure her client’s story is deservedly heard.

Pleading Insanity

According to Florida law, all people are initially presumed to be sane. This means the law assumes a defendant is sane until that defendant can prove otherwise. So, the defendant bears the burden of proving their insanity, which they must prove by “clear and convincing evidence,” a rather high standard to meet.

To prove this, you must first show that the insanity existed at the time the alleged crime occurred. Note that the insanity need only exist at the time of the crime, so it is technically possible for a defendant to claim “temporary insanity,” which holds that they were only insane for the short duration in which they committed the crime. In such a case, it is quite possible for the defendant to be found competent and sane during the trial (perhaps due to treatment) but still be able to argue an insanity defense based on their mental capacity at the time of the alleged crime.

In addition, the defendant must also show that, due to the insanity, they either were unable to distinguish between right and wrong or otherwise didn't understand what they did because of a "disease of the mind."This is referred to as the M’Naghten Rule, which governs Florida’s statute for the insanity defense.

The M’Naghten Rule

The M’Naghten Rule is when the defendant either:

  • Was not able to understand the consequences of their actions
  • Understood the consequences of their actions but was not able to tell that what they were doing was wrong

This test focuses on whether a defendant knew the nature of the crime or understood right from wrong at the time it was committed. Thus, in order to be declared legally insane under this test, a defendant must satisfy one of these two criteria. Be aware that in applying this test, courts may differ as to whether the "wrong" in question refers to moral wrong or legal wrong (or even both).

Seek an Experienced West Palm Beach Defense Attorney

The mental health defense of insanity has a very specific criteria to satisfy, and insanity must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a higher standard than used in civil cases. If you are facing criminal charges and want to learn more about the case for an insanity defense, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of Nellie L. King, P.A. can provide an informed evaluation of your situation in light of the mental health defense.

Contact the West Palm Beach firm by submitting an online form here or by dialing (561) 220-2377.

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  • Nearly 25 Years of Legal Experience
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  • Attorney King was my voice in the courtroom.

    “Her knowledge of the law, her courage while aggressively fighting for me, belief in my innocence and the ability to communicate with the jury were priceless in ensuring my freedom.”

    - V.C., Former Client
  • Top-notch, caring, and highly respected.

    “Nellie represented our son fiercely in her trademark "pit bull" style and won a landmark case in our county. Top-notch, caring, and highly respected are the qualities that come to mind when I think of Nellie King.”

    - Brenda Benson
  • Ms. King truly cares about her clients and the outcome of their cases.

    “Between her knowledge, hard work, and respect she is able to get her clients the best possible outcome in their cases. Ms. King is very knowledgeable in criminal law, she is hardworking and caring.”

    - W.G.
  • Nellie brings power and grace. She is the velvet hammer.

    “Sharp, tenacious, passionate, and totally committed to securing justice, Nellie King advocates tirelessly for her clients. Your case becomes her case.”

    - Leigh D. Hagan (Ph.D. Board-Certified Forensic Psychologist)
  • She is a true leader and one of the fiercest advocates in the legal profession.

    “Attorney Nellie King is absolutely unstoppable in the courtroom. Her skill and technique are matched only by her will and her drive. She is not afraid to zealously defend her clients and never shies away from protecting their constitutional rights.”

    - Jessica Yeary (Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer & Public Defender Elect, Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit)
  • Nellie is a DEFENDER!

    “Her concern for the turmoil of the client’s life, and its impact on their family, imbue every strategic decision she makes.”

    - Joe Guastaferro (Nationally Recognized Trial Consultant and Jury Selection Specialist)
  • A top-notch fighter who will protect their legal rights.

    “Nellie is one of the most dogged, detailed, dedicated, and skilled advocates that I've had the pleasure of working with in my 30-year career. Prosecutors undoubtedly cringe upon her entry into the case.”

    - Charles Mittelstadt (Criminal Defense Investigator)

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