PROMPT: Write about any one or more of the issues that fall under the wider topi

by | Jun 19, 2022 | Criminal Law

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PROMPT: Write about any one or more of the issues that fall under the wider topic of mental health.
State a position on any of the issues you address in your paper.
LINKS TO VIDEO:
https://video.foxnews.com/v/929338345001#sp=show-clips

BACKGROUND INFO:
Mental health issues pervade every segment of the criminal justice system. From the police, to the courtroom work group, to probation and corrections staff – virtually everyone working in criminal justice faces the challenge of working with mentally ill individuals on a regular basis. Because this course is specifically concerned with courts and sentencing, our focus will be on the issue of mental illness in the context of the adjudication and sentencing of criminal cases.
Incompetency deals with whether a defendant facing charges is “competent” to proceed to a trial or plea. The relevant considerations are whether the defendant understands the proceedings against him and can assist in his own defense. If the court, prosecution, or defense has concerns about the competency of a defendant, any of them can seek an opinion from a court appointed mental health expert, generally a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist. In Arizona’s state courts, the issue of competency is governed by Rule 11 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. You may wish to do a Google search for that rule to learn more about it.
Insanity is a completely different issue than incompetency. The insanity defense is concerned with whether the defendant was legally insane at the time the offense was committed, and not his mental state at the time of a trial or plea agreement. Here, it is important to keep in mind that mental illness is a very dynamic disability. One can be severely impacted by mental illness one day and relatively unaffected another.
Technically speaking, the insanity “defense” is not a defense at all, but rather an excuse, and rarely used successfully. Someone who successfully asserts an insanity defense does not get off without consequences. Generally, he serves a substantial term (often life) in a secure psychiatric care facility. Legally insanity is also different from most clinical definitions of insanity. Different states and the federal government employ different definitions of legal insanity. You may wish to research the definition used in your state. Again, in order to successfully assert an insanity defense, a defendant must (through his attorney) present persuasive expert opinion or testimony from a qualified mental health expert.
Finally, mental health problems can also be asserted by a defendant as a mitigating circumstance. Mitigating circumstances do not negate guilt. They may, however, be considered by a judge or jury to reduce the severity of the punishment for a crime. For example, in death penalty cases, mental illness is frequently an issue raised by the defense when seeking to persuade a jury to sentence a defendant who has already been found guilty of murder to a life sentence, rather than the death penalty. Again, expert opinion or testimony from a qualified mental health expert is generally essential.

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