If a Defendant pleads insanity, what are the consequences of a Guilty or Not Guilty verdict?
Many jurors wrongfully believe that a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity in a criminal trial results in the Defendant walking out of the courtroom without further consequences. To correct this inaccurate belief, the Indiana Supreme Court in the case of Passwater v. State held that jurors should be instructed of the consequences of their verdict in an insanity defense case as follows:
If the Defendant is found guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime, the court will sentence the Defendant in the same manner as a Defendant found guilty of the offense. The Defendant will then be further evaluated and treated as is psychiatrically indicated for his illness.
If the Defendant is found not responsible by reason of insanity at the time of the crime, the prosecuting attorney will file a petition for mental health commitment with the court. The court will hold a mental health commitment hearing at the earliest opportunity. The Defendant will be detained in custody until the completion of the hearing. If the court finds that the Defendant is mentally ill and either dangerous or gravely disabled, then the court may order the Defendant to be either placed in an outpatient treatment program of not more than ninety (90) days, or committed to an appropriate mental health facility until a court determines commitment is no longer needed.
Vonderheide & Knecht: Serving Lafayette’s Legal Needs Since 1992.