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Using the Insanity Defense

The Fort Lauderdale criminal defense law firm of William Moore, P.A. handles criminal cases in the Broward County area and also publishes writings and information on all aspect of Florida criminal law. For more information contact our criminal defense attorneys directly.

One of the many available defenses to a criminal defendant is the insanity defense which is recognized in Florida Statute 775.027 . The trier of fact must consider whether the defendant was insane at the time that the crime allegedly occurred. A person is considered to be insane when it is proven that the individual suffered from a mental infirmity, disease, or defect which resulted in the fact that the individual did not know what they were doing or its consequences or that although the individual knew what they were doing and its consequences, they did not know it was wrong. A defendant who knew that that their behavior violated society standards or was against the law cannot be found insane. Unrestrained passion is not insanity, even though the normal judgment is impaired by passion or temper.

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney on the Burden of Proof and Procedural Implications
All persons are presumed to be sane. The defendant has the burden of proving the defense of insanity by clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is evidence that is precise, explicit, lacking in confusion, and of such weight that it produces a firm belief, without hesitation, about the matter in issue. If the trier of fact finds that the defendant was insane at the time the crime was committed, then the defendant must be found not guilty by reason of insanity. The court will then conduct further proceedings to see if the defendant should be committed to a mental hospital, given outpatient treatment, or released.

Broward County criminal attorneys often explain that in determining the issue of insanity, the trier of fact must consider the testimony of expert and non-expert witnesses. If the evidence establishes that the defendant had been adjudged insane by a court of law and had not been judicially restored to legal sanity, then the trier of fact should assume the defendant was insane at the time of commission of the alleged crime. This is true unless contrary to the weight of the evidence.
The defendant or their Fort Lauderdale defense counsel must give timely notice of the intent to raise the insanity defense. The state will then order the defendant to be examined by the state’s mental health expert(s) to assess the defendant’s sanity at the time the alleged offense was committed. State attorneys and defendant both retain the right to be present at said examination.

If a criminal defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity, the Department of Children and Family Services must admit the defendant to an appropriate facility. Within six months from the date of admission, the facility administrator must file a report with the court which addresses the issue of further commitment of defendant. A copy of this report must be served upon all interested parties. Or, if during the course of the initial six month commitment, the facility administrator believes that defendant not longer meets the criteria for commitment, a report attesting to that fact must be given to the court and all interested parties must be notified of that belief.

After receiving a report from the facility administrator, the court has thirty days to hold a hearing at which the defendant has the right to be present. If the court finds that the individual meets the criteria for continued commitment or treatment, the court will order further commitment or treatment for a period to exceed one year. This process will continue on a yearly basis until it is found that the defendant has been restored to sanity. Before any hearing to assess defendant, the court may, on its own motion or by request of either party, appoint two or three experts to examine the defendant as it pertains to the criteria for continued commitment or placement of the defendant.

The Fort Lauderdale criminal attorneys at The William R. Moore Criminal Defense Law Firm are available to answer your questions. Contact 954-523-5333