Why Defendants Pleading Insanity Must Disclose Examination Results in Arizona


Defendants who plead insanity in Arizona face numerous obstacles. Some of the issues they face infringe on the Fifth Amendment rights of the accused. A recent court ruling found defendants pleading insanity must disclose examination results in Arizona.

The ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court in 2017 found defendants who voluntarily seek mental health examinations after filing an insanity defense must provide the results of the examination to the prosecution in their case.

The ruling raised concerns that the defendants’ rights against self-incrimination could be violated.

Examination results must be revealed in an  Arizona insanity ase

A defendant claiming insanity in Arizona must disclose examination results

Since the ruling, defendants in criminal cases have had to give prosecutors any statements relating to the charges made during the mental health examination.

The justices said forcing a defendant in a criminal case to provide results of a mental health examination would not be self-incriminating. They said the fact the insanity defense was used meant they would have waived their protection against self-incrimination.

The court ruled prosecutors can only use the evidence from examinations to refute insanity claims rather than to prove guilt in these cases.

Voluntary mental health examinations are distinct from those ordered by the court.

The 2017 case concerned Josh Rasmussen who was indicted for armed robbery and felony murder. His lawyer consulted with several mental health experts about a possible insanity defense. The defense listed insanity, or guilty except insane, as a defense in the case.

Rasmussen retained a psychologist to support his insanity defense. The state and Rasmussen agreed to an examination by a joint expert. Reports were prepared by both experts. A legal dispute ensured when the state requested copies of both reports compiled by experts. Rasmussen’s lawyers produced copies but redacted Rasmussen’s statements.

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution says no defendant will be compelled to be a witness against himself. The amendment states:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

At the Garcia Law Firm, we vigorously defend the rights of mentally ill people in the criminal justice system. We will answer your questions about mental health examination results in Arizona Call us for a consultation at (602) 340-1999.


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