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Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation of Defendants Raising the Insanity Defense

NCJ Number
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Supplement Volume: 30 Issue: 2 Dated: 2002 Pages: S1-S40
Deborah Giorgi-Guarnieri M.D.; Jeffrey Janofsky M.D.; Emily Keram M.D.; Sarah Lawsky J.D.; Philip Merideth M.D.; Douglas Mossman M.D.; Donna Schwartz-Watts M.D.; John Thompson, Jr M.D.; Howard V. Zonana M.D.
Date Published
40 pages
This is a practice guideline for forensic psychiatric evaluation of defendants raising the insanity defense.
The insanity defense is a legal construct that, under some circumstances, excuses mentally ill defendants from legal responsibility for criminal behavior. The ability to evaluate whether defendants meet a jurisdiction's test for a finding of not criminally responsible is a core competency in forensic psychiatry. The report acknowledges differences between ethics guidelines and legal jurisdictional requirements. Jurisdictional rules of discovery or hearsay, among others, may compel the forensic psychiatrist to conform to different practices. The document discusses the history of the insanity defense and the M'Naghten Rule for judging insanity; the Insanity Defense Reform Act; substance abuse and the insanity defense; non-traditional mental conditions considered in insanity defense cases; and State and Federal standards for what justifies an insanity defense. References