The insanity defense is one of the most controversial and misunderstood topics within criminal law, raising difficult questions about whether, and to what extent, mental illness should absolve a defendant of criminal responsibility. When defendants are found “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI), it means that mental illness or defect prevented them from possessing the “guilty mind” (mens rea) required to hold them legally responsible. Thus, insanity is a legal term, not a medical one. Those acquitted on grounds of insanity are ...

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