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Camden Criminal Lawyers: Insanity Defense

May 22, 2017

Camden Criminal Lawyers: Insanity Defense

The insanity defense in criminal cases is often misunderstood and can be difficult to prove. Insanity laws for criminal cases in New Jersey are in place in order to help defendants who are truly not responsible for their actions. However, there are challenges in pleading a successful insanity defense, and many frequent misconceptions.

The M’Naghten Insanity Test in New Jersey Criminal Cases

Pleading insanity in a New Jersey criminal case is an affirmative defense in which a defendant admits that they committed a crime, but asserts that they were not responsible for their actions due to mental illness. This mental illness must satisfy the legal definition of insanity, which confirms that the defendant was at the time incapable of determining right from wrong. This can be difficult to prove, but New Jersey and many other states have outlined a particular set of rules which can determine if a defendant did not have the mental capabilities to be truly responsible for the crimes they have committed. This is based on a test known as the M’Naghten Test.

When pleading the insanity defense against criminal charges in New Jersey, the M’Naghten test is used to determine insanity. The test states that a defendant can be defined as legally insane if:

  • They were not mentally capable of understanding the nature of their actions;
  • If they understood the nature of their actions, they were incapable of understanding that they were wrong legally or morally.

If psychiatrists determine that a defendant fits either of the above criteria, then they are proven not guilty by reason of insanity, Camden criminal lawyers affirm.

Insanity Defense Court Procedures in New Jersey Criminal Cases

If a defendant intends to use an insanity defense, their defense lawyer must be advised beforehand. Both the criminal lawyer and the prosecution will have their own psychiatrists examine the defendant at trial. These psychiatrists are legally not allowed to voice their opinion regarding the defendant’s mental health at the time of the crime. They are only allowed to make an unbiased professional medical diagnosis regarding the defendant’s mental health.

If the insanity defense is successful in a New Jersey criminal case, the ruling usually leads to the defendant being committed to a mental health institution. This may be an even longer sentence than jail time. However, if the defendant is not considered to be an active danger to others, they may be released under supervision, or even without supervision.

Camden Criminal Lawyers at The Law Offices of Michele Finizio Pursue Fair Trials for Clients Charged with Crimes in New Jersey

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in New Jersey, Camden criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio can help you. With offices located in Moorestown, New Jersey, we represent clients in Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout New Jersey. Call us at 856-888-9059 for a free consultation or contact us online

Reviews Matter

“First class representation. Michele was my son’s attorney after he made a slight but bad decision that hurt no one, but one that potentially could have a caused a lifetime of employment problems in the future, despite having a four year college degree. First of all Michele was very proactive in protecting his rights. Rights we were not even aware of. She provided quick and reliable answers to our questions. Before we met with her our anxiety and worry was insatiable. The peace we felt after our first consultation alleviated all that and we knew we picked the right attorney. Her excellent negotiation skills resulted in a settling his case quickly and without conviction.

We owe a debt of gratitude for her service. I was shocked at how much she was able to do for my son. She is a solid lawyer who is honest and works to insure the best possible outcome for her client is achieved.”
- Former Client

“Michele was very prompt when getting back to me when I called regarding legal counsel. Michele kept me informed and in the loop while awaiting trial. Very professional qualities and I highly recommend Michele and will continue to seek her legal expertise in the future. Thanks.”
- Former Client

“I could not had ask for a better attorney. Michele Finizio treated my case and the case of those I’ve recommended as if we were part of her family. She gave it all she had, made her voice and case be heard in court and made it count, and we had the best possible outcome, thanks to her experience and expertise. Thank you very much for an outstanding job.”
- D.A.

"Michele is an outstanding, no “beating around the bush” lawyer. She has done a remarkable job as a lawyer for me. Before Michele, I did not get along with Criminal Lawyers – she comes HIGHLY recommended by me to anyone who needs a Criminal Lawyer."
- C.O.
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