Understanding Insanity Defense

Insanity or mental disorder defense is used during criminal trials to plead innocence for the crime committed. The defendant must prove to the court that he was not aware of committing the crime, that during the time he did not know what he was doing.

Understanding insanity defense is important to know how it works. Insanity also known as a mental handicap or psychiatric disorder had been used for longest time to defend a person who is not in his proper mind when the criminal act happened.

A21 4

There are two kinds of insanity:

•    Cognitive insanity – Using psychiatric test results, the defendant is proven mentally incapacitated during the act of crime. It is allowed by many states to be used as defense in court proceedings.
•    Volitional insanity – It is an irresistible impulse. The defendant knows that what he is doing is wrong, but due to extreme emotions, he loses control of himself and commits the crime. It usually happens during crimes of vengeance or vendetta. Only a few states permit the use of volitional insanity as court defense.

It helps that in understanding insanity defense you need to know its history. It was first used in later part of the 13th century during a court prosecution where the defendant used “complete madness” plea to prove innocence. In 1581, an English treatise stated that “if a madman, a natural fool or a lunatic” committed a crime of killing someone in the throes of his madness, he is not held accountable. During 18th century, British courts used “wild beast” test to prove that the defendant was totally unaware of what he has done. If the test resulted showed that the person had little or no comprehension like a wild beast, brute or infant during the incident, there would be no conviction.

As time evolves, the term lunatic, wild beast or madness are eliminated and replaced with insanity. The legal basis to use insanity in court is codified in British law in the middle of 19th century through M’Naughten Rule. It was used in different courts worldwide and by the majority of states in the United States.

There are various tests used by courts to assess the degree of insanity. It is important in understanding insanity defense to know if the person is totally or partially insane. Some of these tests are:

•    M’Naughten Rule – This test will prove that the defendant has no understanding or comprehension of what he did or why he did it due to mental illness.
•    Durham Rule – Test shows that regardless of any diagnosis, the mental illness of the defendant resulted in a crime.
•    Irresistible Impulse Test – This test shows that because of cognitive impairment, the defendant has no control over his impulses which lead to criminal acts.
•    Model Penal Code Test – It is the test to prove legal insanity. The result will prove that the defendant who is diagnosed with mental defect is unaware the criminal liability of what he has done.

Understanding insanity defense using the results of these tests is important in giving proper judgment. Defendants who are found not guilty due to insanity are given psychiatric treatment in mental institutions. Those who are found guilty, but suffering from temporary insanity are also confined in the institution until such time that they are no longer threats to society.

What is Self Defense? : A Summary of its Definition, Types and Basic Techniques

What is self-defense? In legal terms, it pertains to the person’s right of physically defending himself from any bodily harm. There are some jurisdictions and cases where self-defense also pertains to the right of defending a 3rd person from physical harm or defending one’s own home.

Generally, self-defense can be applied in two situations: when a person was physically attacked and even when he was just threatened by the other person. It is known to be present in various crimes including assault, battery, kidnapping, homicide, robbery and etc.

A21 3

What are the circumstances where self-defense can be considered as appropriate? How much physical force does a person need in order for him to say that it’s just a form of self-defense? Most number of states has a list of requirements that can help in determining if the act of self-defense is lawful and appropriate. Kindly see them below:

• The victim must defend himself in a reasonable and proportionate amount of physical force
• The victim didn’t start the altercation and provocation.
• There must be an immediate threat of physical harm (self-defense is not an acceptable reason for defending oneself in future situations)
• In cases where the victim has to do it because it’s the only way to retreat or escape the situation.

In situations where the victim used a deadly weapon to defend himself, it’s never justifiable unless the aggressor initially threatened the victim with a deadly weapon too.

Now that the question of “What is self defense?” has already been answered, the next question would be: what are the two types of self-defense? Generally, self-defense can be classified into two: perfect and imperfect.

Perfect self-defense is a situation where the victim responded with a reasonable and appropriate amount of physical force to the attacker. Example of this would be responding to attacker’s punches with punches as well.

Imperfect self-defense is a situation where the victim responded to the attacker with more physical force. Example of this would be responding with a gun when the attacker just attacked the victim with punches.

Sometimes, there are instances where imperfect self-defense requires a detailed analysis of facts in the situation. A concrete example of this would be responding with a shooting gun because the attacker has brass knuckles on his fist while throwing punches. If that situation is found reasonable by the court, then it’s considered as justifiable. The victim can also get a lower sentence if the imperfect self-defense is justifiable to use with regards to dealing the aggressor.

If the situation is really unavoidable, don’t hesitate to fight back. Here are the basic techniques of self-defense that can help people in protecting themselves against the aggressors:

• Shout and push the aggressor back. This is the simplest form of self-defense. Shouting and pushing the aggressor back should be done because of two things: to get the attention of others and to let the aggressor know that he’s not going to have an easy target.
• Use body parts that are most effective in inflicting damage. Typically, these are the knees, elbows and even head.
• Capitalize on using everyday objects around. Whether it’s a hairspray, pen, umbrella, powder, pipe, rock or a piece of wood, use it as long as it can provide a much stronger defense against the aggressor.

Laws about self-defense are often complicated and not easy to understand. Call a qualified attorney immediately if there’s a need for assistance on situations that involve self-defense. Not only that he can help the victim in making sense of the laws, he can also represent the victim in court proceedings.

Legal Defense Against LibeL

Libel is one of the two kinds of defamation; slander being the other one. Libel occurs when an individual makes fabricated written publications about another individual or business organization that causes harm. The law provides solutions for those who are harmed by others. Nevertheless, the law also seeks to supply certain types of defense for those who are charged with defamation. Although the First Amendment assures freedom of speech, it also makes libel cases quite complex.

A21 2

Innocent Dissemination

Several protections are available for defendants in defamation cases. One legal defense against libel and slander is innocent dissemination. In order for the court to accept it as a defense, the defendant must substantiate that he has no motive to consider that the published material would comprise libel, had no information that what he had printed or circulated was libelous and that this absence of information was not because of carelessness on his side. However, this defense can only be cited by those who are incidentally connected with the publication or distribution of the defamatory material. It can be invoke as legal defense against libel by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), distributors and printers who only provided the medium for the defamatory material’s publication. This type of defense cannot be cited by the commercial publisher, editor and the author.

Honest Opinion

Another legal defense against libel is honest opinion, which replaced the fair comment defense when the Defamation Act was enacted in 2013. It can only be invoke however if the defendant can confirm that the publication in question was just an opinion, that somewhere within the publication there was evident basis to the opinion and that the statement made is one that a truthful person could have made.

Truth

The law conventionally deduced that a statement was untrue once a plaintiff showed that it was defamatory. Under contemporary law, a complainant who is a public figure or public official must prove deceptiveness as a requirement for recovery. Phoniness is a factor of libel that any complainant must prove in order to recover. In cases where falsity is not a requirement, truth provides as a positive defense to an action for defamation. It is not required that a statement is accurately true in order to invoke this defense. Courts only require that the statement is significantly factual in order for the defense to take effect. In other words, even if the respondent avers some facts that are untrue, if the essence of the statement or publication is substantively true, then the respondent can count on the defense.

Absolute Privileges

Another legal defense against libel is the absolute privilege of a respondent due to his status or position. Otherwise termed as immunity, the defense is not based on the intent of the respondent in making a false statement or on the type of statement. The law provides that under certain circumstances, some officials should be safeguarded from liability such as in legislative and judicial proceedings; executive publications, publications required by law and between spouses.

Consent

When complainants agree to the publication of libelous material about them, then such assent is a total legal defense against libel.

Domestic Violence Can Be Stopped!

In today’s age of awareness and promotion of love, compassion, equality, and justice, it is disappointing to see that there are still a lot of women who are subjected to hurt, danger, and even death from the hands of the people who are supposed to be giving them unconditional love. Domestic violence comes in many forms, types, and kinds, but one thing certain is that the pain that it brings to the victims does not make the person who hurts more powerful or domineering, and it does not, in any way, solve any problem, regardless if it a marital or a family-oriented issue.

A21 1

The good news is that raising awareness regarding the prevention of domestic violence and specifically violence against women has been addressed by many organizations both government and private. The women’s legal defense against domestic violence has been fortified even further to protect women and children from further harm, using stronger rules and better implementation of these rules, as well as a more open channel to air out concerns.

Domestic violence is defined as the use of physical, emotional, sexual, or threatening force to invoke fear and to control a partner that is intimate. Domestic violence is a type of behavior that grows in strength as time and the number of occurrences of physical abuse progresses. As time flies, when the instances of abuse are not reported to the authorities, the situation for the person being harmed will only get much worse. A partner that is abusive will use different mixes of behavior to maintain control of the person that he is abusing. Regardless if you have not yet experienced physical harm but you are given the impression of being controlled or manipulated thanks to other actions your partner does, such as throwing things, shouting, and threatening, your partner is already abusing you.

Domestic violence not only occurs in women. In fact, it can happen even in same-sex couples, and it does not even require the relationship to be in any way romantic or to have sexual intimacy in it.

If you feel that you are being abused, it is important to know that there are a lot of women’s legal defense against domestic violence that can help you fight the person who is abusing you. When you get the chance, contact the nearest shelter or crisis center for you to get immediate

support and information. The people that you are going to meet in the shelters will tell you all there is to know about women’s legal defense against domestic violence and how you can use them to prevent the hurt from happening to you again. In addition, make yourself more involved in support groups for domestic violence, as well as in counseling sessions. If you have friends and family that can get to you quickly, ask for their support. Family will always be there whenever you need them. Finally, the most important thing for you to do is to take legal action. Do not let yourself be controlled by yo+ur fear. Learn to fight domestic violence by taking hold of the situation and using it to help set you free.

Being Drunk: A Defense to Criminal Charges

Alcohol affects the way people think and act, sometimes radically. Most individuals possibly have at least encountered one situation wherein they did or said something deplorable or shameful while under the influence of alcohol. However, would such a defense hold up in court if ever criminally charged for the act? “Being Drunk: a defense to criminal charges” is a complicated issue which can vary from case to case.

While people will claim intoxication as a defense in a criminal charge, courts don’t usually accept it as a defense in majority of criminal cases. Individuals make mistakes when not drunk, but more so when under the influence of liquor. Unfortunately for some individuals, getting drunk voluntarily is not a defense to most criminal cases.

Drunk and unconscious businessman lying on a counter

When considered as a defense

Voluntary intoxication is a situation wherein an individual imbibes alcohol to excess. In such a situation, it can be said that getting drunk is voluntary since the individual chose to drink alcohol in excess despite knowing the effects. Courts and legislators alike believe that people should be held accountable for their actions, irrespective of whether they are acting with all their faculties intact. On some occasion however, courts will allow a defendant to present evidence of intoxication to refute his mental capacity.

Intoxication as a defense however is not always honored by courts. Depending on the situation involved and the manner by which the intoxication is achieved, the court may however consider being drunk as a defense to a criminal charge filed against an individual. In general, being drunk may lessen a person’s liability to the perpetration of the crime but not totally free him from it. In other words, voluntary intoxication may lessen the defendant’s liability to the crime rather than let him off the hook completely.

Depending on the state where the crime is committed however, being drunk as a defense may only be accepted only when its aim is to disprove the mental condition (the intoxication is so severe that it is tantamount to insanity) of the defendant at the time that the crime was committed.

Not considered as a defense in certain cases

Being intoxicated in some specific cases is definitely not a defense against criminal charges. Take the case of drunk driving, in which case the drunk driver is being charged because he is inebriated while driving. Driving while under the influence of alcohol which resulted to the death of another person is referred to as automobile homicide.

Being drunk is not a defense in this case since operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor is tantamount to negligence, which resulted to another person’s death. Both cases mentioned are straightforward in tackling intoxication as not a defense against the charge of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Other cases however are a little vague about the specific liability of the person who is intoxicated while committing a particular crime. Let us take the case wherein a defendant is charged with rape who is inebriated while allegedly committing the crime against another who is equally intoxicated. In this scenario, there are various other factors to be considered other than the Blood Alcohol Content or BAC of the defendant.

It is often much more difficult to establish the liability of the defendant in this case since one has to consider other elements such as how drunk was the defendant, was the victim injured or the circumstances involved in the alleged assault.