Insanity Defense

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  • A criminal defense strategy that stipulates that the defendant cannot be found guilty in a given trial if he or she is deemed to be insane. The premise underlying the insanity defense is that individuals who are considered to be insane do not have adequate moral reasoning to understand right from wrong or they do not have any control over their actions. As such, individuals who do not understand the distinction between right and wrong cannot have criminal intent, or mens rea. In this regard, individuals who are deemed to be insane cannot be found guilty of a criminal offense. The first legal attempt at taking into account defendants' cognitive abilities occurred in England in 1843. Daniel M'Naghten attempted to assassinate British Prime Minister Robert ...

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