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Using the insanity plea

Some defendants who are facing serious criminal charges in New Jersey might want to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The insanity defense is used when a defendant admits that they committed a crime but asserts that they did not know that what they were doing at the time was wrong. Statistics have shown that this type of defense is used in only 1 percent of county court cases and it is successful 25 percent of the time it is used.

Many people who are charged with crimes have problems with mental illness, but a diagnosis of a mental illness alone is not enough to plead insane. To plead not guilty by reason of insanity, a defendant must prove that they did not know right from wrong when they committed a crime. The act of covering up a crime scene, running from a crime scene or admitting that an action was wrong are all things that could lead a jury to conclude that a person knew right from wrong.

Many well-known serial killers have attempted to plead not guilty by reason of insanity and failed. John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer were unable to convince the court that they were insane when they committed their crimes because they both tried to cover up their actions. However, Andrea Yates, a woman who drowned her five children, was successful in her insanity plea by proving that she had been suffering from postpartum psychosis.

Many defendants may have had ongoing mental problems or a temporary psychosis when they committed a crime. Someone who would like to plead not guilty by reason of insanity may want to have representation from a criminal defense attorney who may be able to help back up the defendant's claim of insanity through scientific evidence and eyewitness testimony.

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