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“I’m Crazy I Swear. Now Let Me Off”: The Insanity Defense.

2390 words - 10 pages

July 19, 2012 started out like every other day, it began and it ended. People woke up, brushed their teeth, grabbed their morning coffee, and ran out the door. People got to work, finished the project they had been working on for days, and went home. They had dinner with their families and sat down and watched some TV, and then they went to bed after reading People magazine. They set their alarms and woke up early. But they woke up and today was different. People turned on their televisions and checked their phones. Life in Aurora, Colorado was halted. The headlines read “Mass Shooting at the premiere of ‘Batman The Dark Knight Rises’” It went viral and everyone was asking questions, waiting for answers. Police lined the streets holding back the hundreds of families. No one was quite yet sure who was dead or alive. But one thing was for sure, James Holmes was alive and life as these families knew it, stopped.
That night brought a feeling that no one can forgot. College student James Holmes killed twelve and injured seventy. He had no prior convictions and no perceived motive to do such an act. So why would a promising neuroscientist do this? Motives are still unclear more than a year after the tragedy (10), but one thing is for sure, the man who tragically derailed so many lives in a matter of thirty minutes is pleading insanity. His defense: “not guilty by reason of insanity.” Should he be let off? The insanity plea should be changed to “guilty by reason of insanity” to protect the justice of the American people.
Criminals should not be able to get out on an insanity plea, or be treated any differently. Their physical body committed the crime, therefore they should be charged for it, no matter the state of mind they were in. Former U.S president Ronald Reagan was shot by a man named John Hinckley in the year 1981. The president survived the shooting despite the internal and external injuries. The Hinckley case is a classic example of the 'not guilty by reason of insanity' case in which the defendant won and got off. (Raghavan). Under the M’Naghton Rule, which Colorado follows to a point, an accused criminal could escape conviction if a mental disability either prevented the accused from knowing the nature and quality of an act or prevented the accused from knowing the difference between right and wrong. The state uses a modified version of the M'Naghten Rule with the Irresistible Impulse Test. The burden of proof is on the state (11).
The types of insanity pleas differ. The "M'Naghten Rule": the defendant either did not understand what he or she did, or failed to distinguish right from wrong, because of a "disease of mind." The "Irresistible Impulse" test: as a result of a mental disease the defendant was unable to control his impulses, which led to a criminal act. The "Durham Rule": regardless of clinical diagnosis, defendant's "mental defect" resulted in a criminal act. The "Model Penal Code": a test for legal insanity, because...

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