Over time, as United States court ruling have been refining the insanity defense, the concept of "settled insanity" has been evolving. Originally, any form of insanity caused by the voluntary use of drugs was not an eligible defense for a criminal offense. The rationale was that any act that results from voluntary behavior, including the voluntary intake of drugs, is choosing to increase the risk of breaking the law. Most United States jurisdictions now recognize that the long-term voluntary use of an intoxicating substance can cause a stable or "settled insanity" that can serve as a defense to a criminal act, especially if the long-term use exacerbated a preexisting mental condition. For example, the concept of "settled insanity" includes the delirium tremens experienced by alcoholic during alcohol withdrawal, but it excludes temporary insanity of intoxication.
California law recognizes "settled insanity" in the case of long-term use, but it does not recognize the temporary mental state caused by the recent consumption of an intoxicant as a sufficient defense. Moreover, recent rulings have upheld that the insanity need not be permanent to qualify as a defense of "settled insanity". For instance, in a case where a woman with a substance-induced psychosis murdered her mother expert witnesses testified that the defendant had "personality defects" that predisposed her to psychosis, and that the psychosis was triggered by chronic substance abuse and the resulting nine months of hospitalization. The defendant was found guilty because the court ruled that her insanity was temporary; however, the Supreme Court of California overturned the lower court's guilty finding, ruling not guilty by reason of insanity, and stating that temporary psychosis not caused by an episode of intoxication constitutes settled insanity and qualifies as a complete defense.
In People v. Skinner, the California Supreme Court further specified the criteria for "settled insanity". The person must have a mental illness that is relatively stable over time, not caused solely by the length of time the substance was abused, and it must also meet the legal definition of insanity in that jurisdiction. Therefore, it appears that the court is stating that a threshold condition for the insanity defense exists when there is a permanent impairment caused by chronic substance abuse in a person with a preexisting mental illness unrelated to substance abuse, but aggravated or set off by voluntary intoxication.
However, a 2007 decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals in People v. Grant upheld a lower court ruling that did not allow expert testimony on the defendant's state of mind due to voluntary intoxication, thus ruling out any possibility that the issue of "settled insanity" might be raised.
Read more about this topic: Settled Insanity
Other articles related to "settled insanity, insanity, settled":
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Famous quotes containing the words insanity and/or settled:
“During these fits of absolute unconsciousness I drank, God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity. I had indeed, nearly abandoned all hope of a permanent cure when I found one in the death of my wife.”
—Edgar Allan Poe (18091849)
“The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions ... but by iron and blood.”
—Otto Von Bismarck (18151898)