What has to be Proved to Use Arizona’s Insanity Defense?


Arizona’s insanity defense is not used often and it can be difficult to sustain. The defense is also known as guilty except insane (GEI). The defendant must show clear and convincing evidence that he or she was suffering from a serious mental defect that meant the defendant could not acknowledge the wrongfulness of the crime.

A mental disease or defect constituting legal insanity is an affirmative defense. The defendant does not claim he or she did not commit the crime. Mental defects or diseases do not include disorders linked to acute voluntary intoxication or from withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.

Using the insanity defense in Arizona
What you need to prove to use Arizona’s insanity defense

A character deficiency, an impulse control disorder or a sexual disorder cannot constitute legal insanity. To use Arizona’s insanity defense you must show a condition is not temporary, or arising out of anger, jealousy, rage, or other impulsiveness.

People who are using the insanity defense must disclose the results of mental examinations, according to a recent ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court. Criminal defendants must hand over to prosecutors any statements related to the charges they may have made during the mental health examination. The court ruled that the “prosecutors can only use the statements to rebut insanity claims, rather than to prove guilt to protect defendants from this possibility of violating their Fifth Amendment rights.”

The court ruled that forcing a defendant to hand over results of their mental health examination would not violate their right not to self-incriminate. Mental health examinations are considered voluntary if they are not ordered by the court.

What Mental Diseases and Disorders can be Used in a GEI Case in Arizona?

A defendant who makes the plea that they are guilty except insane will be evaluated by a licensed professional with knowledge of state statutes and mental illnesses.

An expert who examines the defendant will submit a written report of the evaluation to the court, the defendant’s attorney, and the prosecutor. 

It’s not easy to establish a GEI defense. You should hire a criminal defense lawyer who has considerable experience in these cases, has used the defense before and knows what needs to be proved. Read about Bernard Garcia’s past cases on our website.  Please contact the Garcia Law Firm today at (602) 340-1999.

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