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Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer > > Violent Crimes > Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity: Be Careful What You Wish For

Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity: Be Careful What You Wish For


Affirmative defenses are one way of casting doubt on the prosecution’s allegations against you.  When you use an affirmative defense, you are saying that your actions do not fit the definition of the criminal offense being charged, but that this is because of extenuating circumstances, not because you did not commit the act that the prosecution says you committed.  For example, a defendant using the duress defense might say that he transported a shipment of drugs because a drug kingpin threatened to kill him if he did not; in using this defense, he is admitting that he transported the drugs.  Likewise, it is an affirmative defense when the defendant says that she shot the victim in self-defense; she is acknowledging that she shot him but claiming that the circumstances make her not guilty of assault with a deadly weapon.  The insanity defense is an affirmative defense, but it is rarely applicable, and getting acquitted but declared insane is not exactly a desirable outcome.  If you acknowledge that you committed an act of violence but believe that you did not break the law by doing so, contact a Pittsburgh violent crimes lawyer.

The Insanity Defense and Other Affirmative Defenses

When you use the insanity defense, you admit that you engaged in the act that the prosecution says you committed, such as violently attacking someone, but you claim that your actions do not fit the definition of aggravated assault, attempted murder, or whichever charge you are facing, because at the time of the attack, you were suffering from a mental illness that prevented you from understanding right and wrong or realizing what you were doing.  Approximately a quarter of defendants who use the insanity defense get acquitted, but it is not exactly a happy ending to the story.  If the court finds you not guilty by reason of insanity, the judge has the right to order you to be institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital, and you will face an uphill battle in trying to persuade a court that it is safe for you to be in the community.  Even if you have a diagnosed mental illness, the insanity defense is usually not the best choice.

In the News

In September 2019, Lisa Snyder called 911 and said that her eight-year-old son Conner had hanged himself and his four-year-old sister with dog leashes.  Police found both children in the basement of Snyder’s home and took them to a hospital, where they died several days later.  Snyder’s defense lawyers sought a plea agreement in which Snyder claimed that mental illness caused her to commit the murders, and in which she would plead guilty to third-degree murder.  The judge rejected the plea deal.  Now Snyder’s case will go to trial, where the charges are for first-degree murder.

Contact Gary E. Gerson About Violent Crime Cases

A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of committing a violent crime.  Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about your case.



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