Asked in Criminal Law for Illinois

Q: Can a Psychopath and serial killer argue and win for a plea of insanity based on Illinois law?

I was wondering if a Psychopath and serial killer can successfully argue and win a plea of insanity based on the Illinois definition and practice of the insanity defense. How would they do it if they could? What would be the reasoning? Or is it impossible based on the definition set by Illinois?

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1 Lawyer Answer
William Wolf
William Wolf
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Illinois

A: Very few things in life are impossible.

That being said, it is extremely difficult for anyone to win an insanity defense, especially in the State of Illinois.

The idea that lots of people raise the insanity defense and "get off" is frankly, a lie.

The insanity defense is raised in less than 1 percent of all criminal cases.

The insanity defense is successful in less than 1 percent of the cases where it is raised.

When people are found "not guilty by reason of insanity", they are often committed for a long time in a Department of Human Services locked facility.

Illinois law requires, in order to be found not guilty by reason of insanity that the person not be able to appreciate the criminality of their conduct. In other words, one cannot distinguish between right and wrong.

Whether a serial killer meets this criteria will depend heavily on the nature of his or her psychiatric illness. Many don't. But some may.

One must evaluate each case individually rather than based on a group stereotype.

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