The insanity defense is an affirmative legal defense in which the court (or other fact finder, e.g., a jury) considers whether an individual’s mental health disorder was so severe as to cause the individual not to be responsible for his or her actions with regard to the alleged crime—that is, not to be acting from free will. This is also referred to as the MSO (mental state at the time of the offense) defense. To be considered guilty of a crime, two components must be proven: (1) the actus reus (guilty act) and (2) the mens rea (guilty mind/criminal intent). The insanity defense focuses on the latter. The types of mental health disorders that qualify for consideration vary by jurisdiction, as does the extent ...

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