Fighting For Your Rights, Protecting Your Future

The insanity defense and its mental health evaluation

It is a sad reality that people are killed every day. Sometimes, those killings are justified, such as when an individual kills another in self-defense to protect them from the imminent threat of death. In some instances, though, it may not be clear whether an individual should be held accountable for the actions that led to the death of another. Under these circumstances, it is important for Michiganders to be familiar with the law and how it might apply to them.

This scenario often arises when an individual is accused of murder but claims that they were insane at the time of the alleged offense. If one intends to use this defense tactic, then the court and the state must be notified. At that time, the court will order the defendant to undergo an evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. The examination can last up to 60 days and may occur in jail if the defendant is ordered to remain jailed pending trial. The defendant may hire an outside mental health professional to conduct the evaluation.

Any statements made during this evaluation are confidential, meaning they cannot be used against the defendant at trial. However, once the evaluation is concluded, a report will be submitted to the court detailing the evaluator’s findings as well as their opinion.

Claiming that insanity caused an individual to kill another is not an easy defense to successfully mount. However, with preparation and knowledge, it may be a very real option for some. Therefore, those who are facing violent crimes charges and believe that they were temporarily insane at the time of the alleged crime may want to discuss the matter with a legal professional.

Source: Michigan Legislature, “Section 768.20a,” accessed on Oct. 30, 2015

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