Sunday, February 14, 2021

When Medical Conditions Should Be Part of a Criminal Defense

Imagine being charged for a crime you had no control over. Defense against such a criminal charge may be one of the hardest courtroom battles you have to face. It not only requires vast knowledge in the criminal defense field, but also high levels of court experience for you to stand a chance and avoid an unfair ruling or penalty.

There are often common errors in regards to whether or not medical conditions should be part of a criminal defense. Without the help of a criminal defense lawyer, you may find it very difficult to navigate the jargon and complexities of criminal defense. However, here are some of the instances in which medical conditions may be used as defense in court.

What Medical Conditions Can You Use as Criminal Defense?

1. Insanity Defense

If you committed a crime as a result of a persistent, cyclic, or an episodic psychiatric disease at the particular time of the criminal act, you can employ the insanity defense,  hence arguing that you were not responsible for your actions, rather, your state of mind caused you to behave as you did.

2. Mental Illness

This refers to a condition or disease, other than senility, epilepsy, mental deficiency, or alcoholism, which significantly impairs a person’s perception of reality, thoughts, judgment or emotional process. In simpler words, mental illnesses can grossly impair the victim’s behavior.

Examples of some of these medically recognized mental disorders are bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and major depressive disorder.

If you are clinically proven to be suffering from any of the above, it can influence the conviction and save you from unfair rulings.

3. Learning Disability

This is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the ability to read, write, or do math, which are foundations to one’s ability to learn. Such a disability can be used in criminal defense.

4. Autistic Spectrum Disorders

This is a developmental disability which causes great social, communication, and behavioral challenges. These challenges often affect the decision-making process and its effects range from mild to severe.

What Cannot Be Ranked as a Disorder?

Not all disabilities of the brain are regarded as mental disorders. For them to be considered as such, and be used in a criminal defense, these disabilities have to give rise to a disability or disorder of the mind as well.

1. Incompetence      

Mental incompetence is the inability of a defendant to carry out major decisions regarding their own affairs. This could be due to a number of mental or physical inhibitions. The defendant in this case is unable to understand the nature of their trial and he/she is often institutionalized until they regain sanity and are able to stand trial.

Keep in mind that incompetence is very distinct from mental illness. It is possible that some defendants may be competent to stand trial despite suffering serious mental illness.

2. Mental Retardation (currently known as Intellectual Disability)

This is a permanent condition in which intelligence levels are severely impaired. It is often accompanied by a great deal of limitations in adaptive functioning. This is quite different from mental illnesses. Unlike the common myth, the majority of those with mental illness have no intellectual deficits. On the contrary, some are highly intelligent. It is possible, however, for a person with mental retardation to also have a mental illness.

What Impact Do Medical Conditions Have on Verdicts?

The court is often considerate on cases in which the perpetrator was under the influence of the disorders that ail them. It is therefore important to know how to deal with criminal charges if you suffer from the mentioned disorders.

All that must be a lot to process, especially when dealing with the stress that comes with facing criminal charges. Worry not however, you can seek counsel from a criminal defense attorney in Dallas and get all the legal representation you need to avoid unfair conviction.

This is a guest blog entry.

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