Many times people who are charged with California Penal Code 187 PC murder make the argument that they did not know right from wrong at the time of the murder, and this can occur for several reasons.
Maybe they're suffering from mental illness, drug use, or both, and when they committed the murder, they did not know right from wrong; they were hallucinating.
Perhaps they were under some psychosis where they believed something was going on that was not going on. It can take several different forms.
So, many times, people searching for a lawyer want to find somebody who understands how to defend these cases where someone's charged with murder, and they want to make a not guilty by reason of insanity plea. This can be complicated, even for lawyers who always do criminal cases.
I've been doing this for over 30 years and have defended many murder cases. So I know how to handle a not guilty by reason of insanity plea as it relates to not only murder, but I've done attempted murder cases and other cases with this type of plea.
Notify the Judge
What happens is you let the judge know that you're going to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge will then:
- appoint two doctors to evaluate the defendant,
- look at the scenario that occurred,
- look at the police reports, and
- other available evidence.
Sometimes the doctors will even talk to the defense attorney and the prosecutor. Then each doctor will create a report and decide whether or not the person was not guilty by reason of insanity. Sometimes the doctors say no, we don't believe this person was not guilty by reason of insanity.
I've seen that sometimes the judge lets the prosecutor get their doctor, and the defense gets their doctor. If each doctor has different opinions, then the judge can appoint their own doctor to break the tie, so to speak, to determine whether or not the person can proceed with a not guilty by reason of insanity plea.
How it works is, first, there is a jury trial. In a jury trial, they will decide guilty or innocent. In other words, the jury will choose based on the evidence, putting aside the mental issues that are expounded by the defense.
They're going to decide whether or not the person committed the crime. That's phase one. In phase two, the jury will determine whether the person is not guilty by reason of insanity or not.
When they make this plea, the defendant has to be told that, conceivably, they could be kept in custody passed the maximum sentence for their crime.
So, let's say that the crime carries a maximum of 25 years to life, and the person could get out or at least be eligible for parole after 85% of 25 years. In a not guilty by reason of insanity, if the person is found not guilty by reason of insanity, they'll be sent to a medical hospital like Patton State Hospital, for example.
They will never leave that hospital until a Judge and the hospital decide they are safe to return to society. So, that's one thing that a criminal defendant needs to be aware of – that even if they're found not guilty by reason of insanity, that doesn't just get them out of custody.
They then have to be treated for whatever illness they have. If they can recover, then they can get out in the future. If they can't recover, they cannot get out of the facility.
So, I've given you a thumbnail sketch of how things work. There's still much more to look into because we have to look at your particular case or your loved one's case to see exactly what happened to see if this specific defense makes sense for them and whether we can succeed.
If you need the best – if you or a loved one is charged with murder or any other crime that you think is not guilty by reason of insanity applies to pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. Let me put my over 30 years of experience to work for you.