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To find an individual guilty of an alleged offense, the individual must be recognized as criminally responsible for the act. Criminal responsibility considers the intentionality of the accused at the time of the crime, appraising the capacity of an individual to choose or control his or her actions, and consequentially being held accountable. Although the notion that individuals with serious mental health disorders, and experiencing reduced mental capacity, should not bear the full consequences of their actions is universally accepted, controversy exists regarding how to assess and determine specific extents of responsibility. Here, the evolution of beliefs regarding criminal responsibility, key concepts necessary to establish responsibility in the United States, and the factors that diminish responsibility are considered.

Evolution of Criminal Responsibility

Beginning in the 3rd century, ...

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