Mental Health Monday–Pleading Insanity


The Oxygen network plays a Snapped marathon every Sunday. I often find myself watching case after case of women “snapping” and killing their parents, husbands, boyfriends, etc and then trying with all their might to get out of any punishment.

Some defense attorneys go for the Insanity Plea as a way to avoid jail time for their clients.

There are two major criteria that someone must meet in order to use insanity as a defense.

  1. You have to suffer from a major mental illness
  2. You have to lack understanding and consequences of the crime you commit (in other words, you don’t know right from wrong at the time you engage in the crime)

Without these two things in place, you can’t successfully plea insanity.

So, when your character is under fire and might stand trial for murder, consider this if you’re gonna try to get them off with the Insanity Plea.

Remember, these posts are for WRITING PURPOSES ONLY and are NOT intended to treat any illness or to be medical (and in this case legal) advice.

Check out Lydia Kang’s Medical Monday and Sarah Fine’s The Strangest Situation for more fantastic writerly information!

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12 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Pleading Insanity

  1. Sarah says:

    Yep, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the insanity defense, I think. It’s pretty hard to do successfully.

  2. kendallgrey says:

    My characters don’t have to *plead* insanity. They ARE insane. Hahahaha! But this is good info to have should the need for a defense arise. 😉

  3. Here in TX, we’ve had plenty of attempted insanity cases. So many Mommas cave from the heat.

  4. Lynn Rush says:

    NICE. Love this information! I haven’t had this going in any of my novels yet, but I’m gonna tuck this information away just in case. Love Mental Health Monday.

  5. LydiaK says:

    This seems to happen in every dramatic, celebrity murder case, doesn’t it? Great post!

  6. Leigh Moore says:

    LOL! What a great post. This makes me think of all the “snapped” shows I’ve seen and how far fetched they are. sometimes that’s OK, but you’re right. Let’s not go crazy with it.. ;p ❤

  7. Linda Gray says:

    Um, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a ‘snapped’ program. Sounds distressing. Love the info on the insanity plea, though.

  8. Interesting. I didn’t know that. People throw that around as if it were easy to plead insanity just because you were super angry at the time of a murder. Good post! 🙂

  9. Vicki Tremper says:

    I think this defense is also seen as a cop out, so keep that in mind if you choose it in your book.

  10. lenny says:

    hi dr laura! my brother that works with mental ill people watches that snapped. where he works they got program for people that got off a crime cause of being insane and they were in the hospital for a long time and not their out and taking medicine and doing good. so far i didnt do a character like that but for sure now i know lots about it.
    …hugs from lenny

  11. J E Fritz says:

    There’s a difference between not knowing right from wrong and not caring. And a good rule of thumb is that if it’s been on a procedural TV show, it’s probably not accurate.

  12. roguemutt says:

    If there weren’t insanity pleas what would you shrinks do?

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