The Law Office of Sam Byrd is open and fully operational. For safety, we use phone and video conferencing for most appointments. However, some exceptions are made for in-person meetings when necessary. Courts and Clerks remain open for all business except in-person hearings unless it meets an emergency exception. We can complete 95% of our work under the current scenario! Click here to read more.
Law Office of Sam Byrd Focusing on Criminal and Family Law
Call to Schedule a consultation
423-954-7949 800-724-5435

How are insanity defenses tested in court?

In television and movies, the insanity defense is quite popular. The ability to write drama -- particularly in a court setting -- around the insanity defense makes it a favorite of film and show creators. In real life, however, there is less drama and more procedure involved in proving an insanity defense.

In most cases, courts use one or more of four procedures to test an insanity defense. The first test is called the M'Naghten Rule. It tests whether a defendant had a mental illness that caused him or her to be unable to distinguish whether a criminal act was right or wrong. It also tests whether the mental illness caused the defendant to be unaware of what he or she was doing at the time of the criminal activity.

In some cases, a defendant might be aware of his or her actions but be unable to stop them because of a mental illness. The court uses the Irresistible Impulse test to find out if this might be the case. A third test, known as the Durham Rule, helps show whether the defendant committed a criminal act because of a mental defect, even if no mental illness diagnosis is present.

A fourth test, known as the Model Penal Code Test for Legal Insanity, helps show whether the defendant failed to understand that an act was criminal or was unable, because of a mental illness, to act according to the law. This and the other three tests usually involve an evaluation and testimony by one or more mental health experts regarding the defendant's psychological and health state and history.

Source: FindLaw, "Insanity Defense," accessed July 10, 2015

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
| Email Us For A Response

Get the help you need

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Contact The Law Office of Sam Byrd

Law Office of Sam Byrd
3828 Dayton Blvd
Chattanooga, TN 37415

Phone: 423-954-7949
Toll free: 800-724-5435
Chattanooga Law Office Map

NCDD National College for DUI Defense: Samuel A Byrd