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Updated by James A. Fowler Jr. on Nov 07, 2018
Headline for Claiming Temporary Insanity as a Defense in Florida
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Claiming Temporary Insanity as a Defense in Florida

Claiming temporary insanity as a defense in criminal litigation is well-known among the general public, thanks to the preponderance of media about offenders using the defense to escape justice. In reality, however, the insanity defense is somewhat limited and has some very specific requirements that defendants must satisfy. Let’s take a look at the elements necessary to prove temporary insanity.

1

Mental Infirmity

A criminal defendant will be deemed insane if, at the time of the commission of the criminal offense, he or she had a mental infirmity, disease or defect. For example, if you suddenly experienced a schizophrenic event that caused you to believe that the defendant was attempting to kill you, then you might reasonably defend yourself, perhaps by shooting the defendant.

2

No Understanding of Wrongdoing

Because of the infirmity, the defendant did not know what he or she was doing (or know of its consequences) or knew what he or she was doing (as well as its consequences) but did not know that it was wrong. Simply put, if you — the criminal defendant — can show that you were not aware of your actions or the natural results thereof (or that your actions were wrong), then that will suffice as proof of insanity. Given the circumstances (and your inability to understand that what you were doing was actually wrong), the insanity defense is likely to apply.

3

Clear and Convincing Evidence

In Florida, you must satisfy the “clear and convincing evidence” standard in order to succeed in asserting the temporary insanity defense. The clear and convincing evidence standard is less burdensome than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that normally attaches to criminal litigation. It can be described as fitting somewhere between 51 percent certainty and 99 percent certainty.

4

Ramifications of the Defense

There is a perception among the general public that temporary insanity is only used as a sort of desperate “last ditch” defense to avoid liability for committed crimes. As such, even if you have a legitimate insanity defense, it’s possible that you will encounter a great deal of friction in court if you attempt to assert such a defense.

Further, it’s important to note that — even if you can prove that you were temporarily insane at the time that you committed the criminal offense at-issue — you will not be allowed to go free. The court will compel you to confinement in a secure psychiatric care facility.

5

Contact a Seasoned Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney for Help

Though a temporary insanity defense — even if successful — is not going to allow you to go free, it can give you access to the psychiatric care you need, and perhaps an easier way “out” of the system once you’ve been confined.

If you’ve been charged with a serious criminal offense, then you may be facing a long prison sentence. Depending on how your case plays out, the consequences of criminal litigation can be fundamentally life-altering. As such, it’s important that you consult with a team of experienced attorneys who understand how to navigate the challenges typical of criminal litigation. Call (941) 404-8919 or request an appointment online to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled Sarasota criminal defense attorneys.