A Discussion Of The Insanity Defense In Louisiana
This New Orleans criminal defense law blog has devoted a number of prior posts to the discussion of defenses to particular crimes. This post presents a general defense that may be used not only for a single crime but rather applies to a number of criminal charges. That defense is insanity.
In Louisiana, a defense of insanity is based upon the M’Naghten Rule or M’Naghten test. Under that test, a court will evaluate if the defendant could distinguish between right and wrong at the time the crime was allegedly committed. If a court determines that a person did know that what he or she was doing was wrong, then his or her claim of insanity will fail as a defense. If, however, the court does recognize a defendant’s inability to distinguish between right and wrong, then his or her claim of insanity may provide some mitigation for the penalties he or she could incur when facing a possible criminal conviction.
A criminal defendant carries the burden of proof when it comes to making an insanity defense. That means that it is up to the defendant to demonstrate his or her insanity with evidence rather than the prosecutor to demonstrate that the defendant was not insane at the time of the alleged crime.
Arguing an insanity defense can be difficult and can require defendants to approach a number of sensitive personal issues during the preparations for their trials. However, because insanity defenses can provide complete defenses to some criminal allegations, they are important to investigate during the preparation of criminal defense strategies. Individuals who wish to better understand how an insanity defense may play out in their own criminal legal battles may wish to discuss their questions with their personal criminal defense attorneys.