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Is a mental disability a legitimate criminal defense?

One of the primary tenets of criminal law in America is the element of intent. For instance, if you accidentally break someone's nose in a car accident, you may or may not be criminally liable because you did not mean to do it. In contrast, if you punch someone in the nose you may well be liable for assault because you intended for it to happen.

This basic analogy could be stretched to those with mental disabilities. If a person lacks the capacity to form the requisite criminal intent, he or she may not be held responsible.. Inflamed by violent criminals who have gotten away with crimes on such defenses, however, lawmakers have beat down defenses based on mental incompetency. Nevertheless, Upper Marlboro residents may still have a criminal defense on these theories.

For instance, a local dump truck driver has recently been charged with two counts of attempted murder after he rammed his rig into a couple of police cars. While superficially an open and shut case, investigation has revealed that the man has a history of mental illness, and that he had not taken his medication. As a result, there may be a question of the man's state of mind.

Presenting such a defense is not an easy task. An experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to help one properly present such an argument. While the insanity defense is often misrepresented in the press, a local criminal defense lawyer may be able to use a mental disability in plea negotiations to lessen your penalties. If you have been charged with a crime which was caused by a mental illness, you should consider consulting with a local criminal defense lawyer.

Source: Upper Marlboro Patch, "Police: Mentally Ill Dump Truck Driver Charged With Attempted Murder of Two Officers," Caitlyn Fitzpatrick, January 8, 2015

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