Nearly Two Decades Years Of Criminal Defense Experience In Clearwater

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Answering Your Questions About Pleading Insanity

Pleading insanity may be able to help defend you against your criminal charges, but there is a lot you should know about this decision before you make it. I am attorney Jenna Finkelstein. At the Finkelstein Firm, P.A., in Clearwater, I can answer your critical questions about this defense strategy. Below are a few more common questions I receive about it.

What is the insanity defense in Florida?

The insanity defense is an affirmative defense. All persons accused of a crime in the state of Florida are presumed to be sane. The defendant has the burden to show that they have a mental defect or illness, and that, because of the mental defect or illness, either they did not know what they were doing or what the consequences of their actions would be or they knew what they were doing but did not know it was wrong.

How do I prove I was insane?

Through the use of experts, a defendant can establish that they were insane when committing the offense. The key is determining whether they were insane at the time of the criminal offense.

What is the difference between insanity and competency?

Competency is a question that is asserted at any stage in the criminal process. A defendant may be competent one day and incompetent the next.  For a person to be tried in a court of law, they must be competent. Therefore, in order to assert the insanity defense, one must be competent to make that decision. This is important in the criminal process because one must acknowledge the criminal behavior in order to plead insanity. A defendant may not acknowledge criminal behavior if they found to be incompetent. An expert is consulted in both circumstances to determine competency and/or insanity.

If I am found not guilty by reason of insanity, am I free?

Not necessarily. If a jury determines that you are not guilty because you were criminally insane at the time of the offense, a judge may maintain jurisdiction over you to ensure that the public is safe. This typically happens through treatment. Treatment may consist of a period of commitment to a mental health facility followed by outpatient care and case management.

This is accomplished through conditional release. A judge may place conditions on your release, such as medication management, a curfew, intense case management and periodic appearances in front of the judge to ensure that you are compliant with your release conditions. A court may have jurisdiction over an individual found not guilty by reason of insanity for much longer than it would have under a standard sentence.

What is the difference between heat of passion and insanity?

Insanity requires a mental illness or defect. Heat-of-passion situations, such as a person losing control because of their temper, is a temporary behavior that does not require an underlying illness.

Is the insanity defense a good defense?

There are many reasons why the insanity defense should be an option for individuals accused of crimes. However, as popular as the term is, it is rarely used. The reason is because the insanity defense is a complicated path. All defenses should be explored in any criminal case. The insanity defense is a good defense when it’s presented correctly by a qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer. Knowing how to use experts and what signs to look for when exploring this defense is the key to successfully asserting it.

Start Building Your Defense

Pleading insanity may be the right option for your defense strategy. Contact me by calling 727-202-4418 or emailing my firm here to learn more about whether this option is right for you and how I can help you secure it.