National Mental Health Defense Lawyer

National Mental Health Defense Lawyer

National Mental Health Defense Attorney

A mental health defense is an affirmative criminal defense that prevents a defendant from being criminally responsible for their actions due to mental illness. The defense may argue that the accused individual did not understand the result of their actions or that they understood the consequences of their actions but did not understand that what they were doing was wrong. This approach requires an incredibly skilled national mental health defense lawyer.

It is important to pick your criminal defense attorney wisely. The insanity defense, a unique form of defense, is used in only 1% of criminal proceedings, according to an eight-state study in the early 1990s. Of that small amount, only one-quarter of them are successful. As of 2017, the New York Times stated that of the 1% of cases that rely on this defense, one-120th are successful. The not guilty for reason of insanity (NGRI) defense is uncommon and rarely successful.

This difficulty is why you need an attorney who has proven success with this defense and can help you determine if an NGRI defense or mental health defense is appropriate for your particular case and the charges you face.

The Law Offices of Nellie L. King: Mental Disorder Criminal Defense Lawyer

When looking for a criminal defense attorney to make a defense based on insanity or mental disorders, you need to find a dedicated attorney with a history of success. The Law Offices of Nellie L. King could be the team to help defend your rights.

Nellie King has been incredibly successful in defending clients based on insanity defenses, winning over 30 cases. She is one of few attorneys who navigate these types of cases successfully and has worked exclusively in criminal defense for many years, both in state and federal criminal courts.

Our team has years of experience providing compassionate and personalized support for our clients. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, we can help determine the applicable state laws for an insanity or mental health defense. We understand the stressful situation that you are in during this time and will remain understanding while we work hard to understand your unique case and the defense that will most effectively preserve your rights.

The Insanity Defense in Criminal Court

When an individual is accused of a crime, they are presumed to be sane. The defense has the responsibility to prove that a defendant is mentally insane or incapable. Depending on the state, this proof may need to meet the standard of clear and convincing evidence or a preponderance of evidence.

This insanity defense is an affirmative defense, meaning that the defendant admits to the crime but provides a defense based on mental disorder. The mental disorder must have been present during the commission of the crime but may not necessarily still be present during the criminal trial. If the defendant is sane during the trial, the NGRI defense is one of temporary insanity.

Insanity Defense and the M’Naghten Rule

Although not all states directly follow the M’Naghten Rule, many states do. Many states that do not follow this rule have similar laws. The M’Naghten Rule requires the defendant and their defense counsel to prove one of the following for a successful insanity defense:

  1. The defendant did not understand the nature or consequences of their criminal actions, or
  2. The defendant did understand this but did not understand the difference between right and wrong. Therefore, they did not realize what they were doing was wrong.

This inability to understand must be caused by the mental disorder or defect that the defense is relying on. The criminal court may define ‘wrong’ either based on legality or morality, or both.

This functions as a defense for certain criminal charges because the prosecution must prove both that a criminal action took place and that criminal intent was present. If the defendant can prove one of the two elements of the insanity defense, then they may not be held criminally responsible as the prosecution may be unable to prove criminal intent.

A defendant found NGRI by the criminal court will likely be committed to an institution without a set sentence, potentially for longer than their prison sentence would have been. If an NGRI defense is unsuccessful, then the defendant will be prosecuted and convicted as anyone would. It’s essential that your attorney has the skill and resources to fight for your rights in court and understands what the most useful course of action is for the success of your case.

Types of Mental Health Disorders Present in Defense Cases

When someone has a history of a specific mental illness, and this illness is the cause of a criminal action, a mental health defense asserts they should not be held responsible for those actions. There are many mental illnesses that may be the basis for this defense. Some examples include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Bipolar disorder and mania
  • Schizophrenia and psychosis
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Other mood disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Phobias

These mental health disorders, depending on their severity, may be used in either mental health defenses or insanity defenses. Which defense is right for you will depend on the circumstances of the crime and how the mental health disorder affects you.

Can Mental Health Be Used as a Defense?

In certain situations, mental health can successfully be used as a criminal defense. It is important to note that this type of defense is different from an insanity defense. There are two ways that a mental health defense is used in criminal cases:

  1. The defendant was not in the right mental state during the commission of the crime and, therefore, can’t be criminally responsible for what they did. Because this is an affirmative defense, it admits guilt for the crime. This defense ascertains that the individual was significantly detached from reality due to their way of thinking or from hallucinations.The form of defense may require witness statements, medical documentation, professional medical opinions, and other professional testimony to determine if the defendant was in their right mind.
  2. The defendant is not competent enough to be on trial. This is not an affirmative defense but instead states that the defendant is actively suffering from a mental disorder and is unable to present their own defense or comprehend the charges against them. To support this assertion, the court may require an evaluation by a professional. If found not competent to stand trial, the case may be dismissed.Being found not competent to stand trial does not prove an insanity defense at a later date, nor does it prevent the defendant from making an insanity defense.

There are several unique requirements to use either of these mental health defenses. This may include the waiver of certain rights. An attorney is incredibly useful in determining if either of these mental health defenses is applicable to your case or is likely to create a strong defense. An attorney is crucial to understanding the risks and benefits of such a defense and safeguarding your rights.

The Risks of a Mental Health or Insanity Defense

Judges and juries are often skeptical of an insanity defense, which is one of the barriers to the success of the defense. If an affirmative mental health or insanity defense is used, and the defense is not believed, then the defendant will almost certainly be found guilty and sentenced as any person would be for the crime. You need a skilled attorney who can evaluate your case prior to trial to determine if a mental health defense is the right option for you.

Risks also occur with a successful mental health or insanity defense. Following a successful NGRI defense, the defendant will be placed in a mental health institution. A lack of competency defense may frequently result in the same sentence. This is for treatment, and a defendant may end up remaining in the institution for longer than they would have served a prison sentence.

Benefits of a Mental Health Defense

A successful insanity defense or mental health diagnosis can help a defendant receive the care and treatment they need. This treatment may be received within a correctional facility, or it may mean treatment in an institution rather than a facility. A diagnosis can help the focus shift from punishment and incarceration to rehabilitation.

When a mental health disorder causes someone to act irrationally or not understand their actions, punishing them and releasing them at the end of their sentence will not address the root cause of the crime. Ideally, the focus on the mental wellness of a person helps give them the treatment they need to re-enter society at some point in the future.

Work With a Skilled National Mental Health Defense Attorney

A mental health or insanity defense requires specific conditions to be met and also needs a strong and dedicated attorney with proven success in fighting for NGRI cases. If you or a loved one committed a crime due to a mental disorder, this should have a mitigating impact on your criminal charges.

At the Law Offices of Nellie L. King, our team can help you if you are facing criminal charges and need a strong mental health defense. We can review your case and give you an informed understanding of the defenses available to you. You may be facing violent crime charges, drug charges, or other criminal offenses. Let our team help. Contact us today.

Speak with Attorney King today about your case by calling (561) 833-1084 or filling out this online form for a free initial consultation.

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