Mental Impairment and Intent
Evidence of a parties’ mental disease, defect, or disorder, can be submitted to show that the party lacked the requisite intent to commit a crime. Certain crimes require specific intent, which is the intent needed to commit a certain act. A good example of this would be murder. In California, if someone is charged with murder, the state must prove that the person had the specific intent to kill. If that person is impaired mentally, then it can be shown that it was impossible for them to formulate that specific intent. This argument can be effectively used to achieve a not guilty verdict in a murder case.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary
If someone is involuntarily impaired, they can use the complete defense of impairment. A defendant is not guilty of their crimes if they committed them while being legally unconscious. A party is legally unconscious when they are in a medical blackout, an epileptic seizure, involuntarily intoxicated, sleepwalking, or other similar conditions. Though the above are unique circumstances, I have seen them play out in criminal defense cases and be used to a client’s benefit.
However, if someone is voluntarily impaired, the defense isn’t complete. This would mean that someone who voluntarily ingested a substance, knowing what that substance was, can be found guilty for crimes they commit while under the control of the substance. What is important to note is that the person must generally know what it is their ingesting. If the person doesn’t know that they are ingesting an intoxicating substance, or they think they are ingesting another substance all together, they can use the impairment defense to some success. Get in touch with our law firm at (866) 986-2092 or fill out online contact firm.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO PROVE A MENTAL IMPAIRMENT DEFENSE?
If the defense is going to assert that the client was mentally impaired at the time of the alleged crime, then we are going to need a medical expert to establish the mental impairment that the subject person is diagnosed with and also indicate that it effected their ability to know right from wrong. In other words, to have any chance of having a successful mental defense, you need a medical doctor to back the claim up with solid common sense evidence.
It is no enough to just say that a particular person has mental issues or was impaired at the time of the crime. It must be a situation where the quality of the evidence is such that a jury would believe it and consider either finding the person not guilty of the crime or use the subject evidence to find the person guilty of a lesser crime. The only way to realistically assess these issues is to sit down face to face with an experienced seasoned local attorney who has been down this road and had success.
When I meet with clients, I have a goal in mind of making sure they understand what they are realistically facing and what they can do to help me. Once we have a game plan in place of how to attack the case, then it is just a matter of executing the plan to a successful resolution. There will be bumps along the way, however if you know what your end result is and you have a realistic plan in place, we will be able to overcome whatever is thrown at us by the judge an prosecutor.
When it comes to winning a criminal case, the first thing you have to do is define what a win will mean to you under the circumstances of your case. Of course, you have to be realistic as to the evidence the prosecutor has against you when deciding what the best possible outcome could be for you. A savvy criminal defense attorney can assist in deciding what you can realistically hope to accomplish in your case and the tools that will be necessary to achieve the goal.
Sometimes getting character letters from those who know you will help. Other times sending out an investigator to flush out some important issues in the case makes sense. And, of course, as indicated above, hiring experts to challenge the police / prosecutor’s case is a great strategy, if it makes sense under the circumstances of your case. A key thing to remember is that not every defense makes sense or works in every single case. Criminal defense is a fluid area and only the best most experience attorneys have the know how to make the right decisions for you at the right time.