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NCJ Number: 135558 Find in a Library
Title: Confronting the Burden of Proof Under the Federal Insanity Defense (From Criminal Court Consultation, P 79-92, 1989, Richard Rosner, Ronnie B Harmon, eds. -- See NCJ-135552)
Author(s): M P Duncan III
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Press
New York, NY 10013
Sale Source: Plenum Press
233 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 substantively and procedurally revised the previous Federal law regarding the insanity defense in two main areas: the definition of insanity and the burden of proof.
Abstract: As a result, the burden of proof now rests on the defendant, just as it does in many states. In contrast to most State laws, however, the Federal law places a major responsibility on defendants by requiring that they prove insanity "by clear and convincing evidence." This rather gross standard of proof will effectively hinder a successful presentation of the insanity defense, except in the most pronounced instances. Such a burden is constitutional as shown in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Leland v. Oregon. It lies between the other two standards (preponderance of the evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt), but is ambiguous. Nevertheless, surveys asking respondents to place numerical values on each standard have shown substantial differences in the values given each standard, indicating that under the new law, defendants must prove insanity to 75 percent of the absolute. As a result, the insanity defense has little use in the Federal criminal justice system. 76 references
Main Term(s): Insanity defense
Index Term(s): Burden of proof; Diminished capacity defense; Federal Code; Federal courts
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