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FRONTLINE
A CASE OF INSANITY

State Insanity Defense Laws
A state-by-state chart showing the legal standards for insanity, "guilty but mentally ill," and other provisions relevant to defendants raising the insanity defense.

Key:

M'N = M'Naughten
A.L.I. = American Law Institute
GBMI = Guilty But Mentally Ill
GBI = Guilty But Insane
NGBD = Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Disease or Defect
NGBI = Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
ABI = Acquitted by Reason of Insanity
N/S = Not Stated



Insanity Test

Bifurcated Trial

Verdict(s)

Treatment

(D=discretionary
M=mandatory)

Release Authority

Alabama

M'N

N

NGBD

D

Court

Alaska

M'N (nature and quality prong only)1

N

NGBI/GBMI

D for NGBI;

M for GBMI

Court

Arizona

M'N (nature and quality)2

N

NGBI/GBI

D

Court

Arkansas

A.L.I. (minus "substantial")

N

NGBD

D

Court

California

M'N

Y

NGBI

D

Court

Colorado

M'N and irresistible impulse

N

NGBI

M

Court

Connecticut

A.L.I (requires lack of capacity to conform behavior)

N

NGBD

D

Court

Delaware

A.L.I. (criminal prong only)

N

NGBI

M

Court

District of Columbia

A.L.I.

Y

NGBI

M

Court

Florida

M'N

Y3

NGBI

D

Court

Georgia

M'N and delusional comparison

N

NGBI/GBMI/GBMR

M for NGBI

D for GBMI/GBMR

Court

Hawaii

A.L.I.4

N

Acquitted for physical or mental disorder

D

Court

Idaho5

GBI

D

Court

Illinois

A.L.I. (requires lack of substantial capacity to conform)

N

NGBI

D

Court

Indiana

A.L.I. (no control prong)6

N

Not responsible by Insanity

D

Court

Iowa

M'N

N

NGBI

M

Court

Kansas

M'N

N

NGBD

M

Court

Kentucky

A.L.I.

N

NGBI

D

Court

Louisiana

M'N

N

NGBI

M

Court

Maine

A.L.I. (no control prong)7

Y

Not responsible for mental defect reasons

M

Court

Maryland

A.L.I.

Y

Not responsible by reason of insanity

D

Court

Massachusetts

A.L.I.

N

NGBI

D

State Hospital8

Michigan

A.L.I.

N

NGBI

M

N/S

Minnesota

M'N

Y

NGBI

M

Court

Mississippi

M'N

Y

ABI

D

N/S

Missouri

M'N and incapacity to conform conduct to requirements of law

N

NGBD

M

Court

Montana9

N/A

GBI

D

Court

Nebraska

M'N

N

NGBI

D

Court

Nevada

N/S

N

GBMI

D

New Hampshire

10

Y

NGBI

M

Court

New Jersey

M'N

N

NGBI

D

Court

New Mexico

M'N or Irresistible Impulse

N

NGBI

D

Court

New York

A.L.I.

N

Not responsible by reason of mental defect

D

Court

North Carolina

M'N

N

NGBI

M

Court

North Dakota11

A.L.I.

Y

NG, lack of criminal responsibility

D

Court Annual Review

Ohio

M'N

N

NGBI

D

Court

Oklahoma

M'N

Y

AGI

D

Court

Oregon

A.L.I.

N

Guilty except for insanity

D

Psych. Security Review Board

Pennsylvania

M'N

Y

NGBI

D12

Court

Puerto Rico

A.L.I.

N

NGBI

D

Court

Rhode Island

A.L.I.

N

NGBI

D

Court

South Carolina

M'N

N

NGBI

M (120 days)

Chief Admin. Judge

South Dakota

M'N

N

NGBI

D

Court

Tennessee

A.L.I.

N

NGBI

M

Court

Texas

M'N and Irresistible Impulse

N

NGBI

D for nonviolent,

M for violent

Court

Utah13

GBI

D

Court

Vermont

A.L.I.

N

NGBI

D

Dev/Men Health Services14

Virginia

M'N and Irresistible Impulse

N

NGBI

D

Court

Washington

M'N

N

NGBI

D

Court

West Virginia

A.L.I.

N

NGBD

M

Court

Wisconsin

A.L.I.

Y

NGBD

D

Court

Wyoming

A.L.I.

N

NGMI/D

D

Court

Federal

M'N

N

NGBI

M15

Court16

Source: Table 38, The Defense of Insanity: Standards and Procedures, State Court Organization, 1998; U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (June, 2000).

: For the most recent laws and links to statutory language, see this collection of state mental health laws.

1 Wrongfulness prong is basis for GBMI verdict.

2 Wrongfulness prong is basis for GBI verdict.

3 At discretion of trial court.

4 Expands disability defense so conduct can be as a result of "physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect."

5 Insanity defense abolished; evidence of mental defect may negate an offense element.

6 Mental disease/defect must be a severely abnormal mental condition that grossly and demonstrably impairs perception.

7 Mental disease/defect must be a severely abnormal mental condition that grossly and demonstrably impairs perception.

8 District attorney must be informed of release and given opportunity to file civil commitment.

9 Insanity defense abolished; evidence of mental defect may negate an offense element.

10 Legislature has not adopted a test: Courts have held that the insanity must negate criminal intent for NGBI verdict.

11 Availability of insanity defense tied to the elements of offense. Effectively abolishes insanity defense for crimes not requiring intention, knowledge, or recklessness.

12 If court has reasonable grounds to believe imposition is necessary due to his/her dangerous character.

13 Insanity defense abolished, evidence of mental defect may negate an offense element.

14 Court may retain the release authority.

15 Unless defense can prove by clear and convincing evidence that his release would not create a substantial risk of bodily injury or serious damage to property due to a present mental disease or defect.

16 Upon certification by director of mental facility that defendant's release or conditional release would no longer create a substantial risk.

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