Under what conditions could someone use the insanity defense…

Under what conditions could someone use the insanity defense? Support your response with factual information from your textbook or additional resources. Use in text citations in complete 6th edition APA format. Just need 125 words

Under certain conditions, individuals may utilize the insanity defense in criminal cases. The legal concept of insanity assumes that individuals who lack the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of their actions due to mental illness should not be held fully responsible for their criminal conduct (Laureate Education, 2017). The use of the insanity defense is highly nuanced and varies across jurisdictions, but it generally requires meeting specific criteria.

One condition that could warrant the use of the insanity defense is the presence of a recognized mental disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a mental disorder is characterized by significant impairment in cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning that causes distress or interferes with daily life (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It is crucial to establish a diagnosis of mental disorder through a comprehensive evaluation conducted by a qualified mental health professional (Golding, 2017). This evaluation typically includes a thorough assessment of the individual’s history, symptoms, and functioning to determine the presence and severity of a mental disorder.

Another condition for utilizing the insanity defense is the requirement to prove the defendant’s lack of legal competence at the time of the offense. In many jurisdictions, this can be demonstrated by establishing that the defendant was unable to distinguish right from wrong (Laureate Education, 2017). The American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code, which serves as a guideline for legal sanity, utilizes the “cognitive test” to determine legal competence. This test considers whether the defendant had the capacity to understand the criminality of their actions and adhere to the requirements of the law (American Law Institute, 1985).

Moreover, to successfully apply the insanity defense, the defendant must demonstrate that their mental disorder caused them to lack the required intent to commit the crime. This means that the individual must prove that their mental illness prevented them from forming the necessary mens rea, or guilty mind, at the time of the offense (Laureate Education, 2017). The presence of a mental disorder does not automatically absolve a person of criminal responsibility; they must establish a direct link between their mental state and the offense committed.

It is important to highlight that the criteria for utilizing the insanity defense can vary significantly across jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions have adopted the “M’Naghten Rule,” which focuses on determining whether the defendant knew the nature and quality of their actions or understood that what they were doing was morally or legally wrong (Laureate Education, 2017). Other jurisdictions may employ the “irresistible impulse” or “product test” standard, assessing whether the defendant was incapable of controlling their actions due to their mental disorder (Laureate Education, 2017).

In conclusion, the insanity defense can be utilized under specific conditions. These conditions include the presence of a recognized mental disorder, a lack of legal competence, and the absence of the necessary intent to commit the crime due to the mental illness. However, it is essential to note that the criteria for the insanity defense can differ across jurisdictions and legal standards. Understanding these conditions and their specific implications is crucial in assessing whether the insanity defense is applicable in a particular case.


American Law Institute. (1985). Model penal code: Sect. 4.01. Insanity.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.

Golding, S. L. (2017). Assessing criminal responsibility: Psychological contributions. In R. C. Schweder, J. M. Bryant, S. L. Golding, & E. J. Williams (Eds.), Forensic psychology: A graduate student’s guide to ethical conduct (pp. 65-98). Morton Grove, IL: Rowman & Littlefield.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2017). Insanity defense [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu