Brooklyn, NY asked in Criminal Law for Pennsylvania

Q: How often are insanity statutes used in pennsylvania? What are some main critisims and what is the success rate?

The last question meaning what is the success rate of the insanity statue used in pennsylvania court system? The questions are for the purpose of a college paper assignment and I would like to have accurate informaton or at least accurate resources to go to in order to find the information.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Lauren A Wimmer
Lauren A Wimmer
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Insanity is an incredibly difficult defense to mount in Pennsylvania. The Rules of Criminal Procedure first require that defense counsel file notice of the defense with the Clerk of Courts. This notice alerts the particular District Attorney's Office of the intent to introduce evidence of insanity so that the prosecution can either (1) attend the evaluation of the defendant themselves and/or (2) prepare rebuttal evidence to refute the defense. Section 314 of the Pennsylvania Code governs the rules of the defense and provides definitions for both "mentally ill" and "legal insanity." There are no explicit statistics as to the number of cases where the defense has proffered the defense and ultimately proved successful. However, any analysis should include discussion of the M'Naughten test, which involves a determination of whether the individual understands the difference between right and wrong.

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