skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 149998 Find in a Library
Title: Is Diminished Capacity Really Dead?
Journal: Journal of Psychiatry and Law  Volume:20  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1992)  Pages:123-159
Author(s): R Slovenko
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 37
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article traces the evolution of the use of the diminished capacity defense and considers whether it still has a place in defense counsel's repertoire of defenses.
Abstract: The diminished capacity rule was nurtured in California. In one form or another, it has been adopted in approximately one-third of the States, mainly in cases in which the defendant is charged with first-degree murder. Under the diminished capacity doctrine, a criminal defendant may introduce evidence of mental abnormality to negate the mental element of the crime charged, thereby exonerating the defendant of that charge. The evidence of diminished capacity, although not quite meeting the standard for "not guilty by reason of insanity," may warrant a verdict of manslaughter instead of murder. The States that have not adopted the diminished capacity rule hold that mental capacity is all or nothing and that only insanity, by whatever definition, negates criminal intent. California has abolished the diminished capacity defense, marking a trend away from its use. Still, the concept is not totally dead. In the pretrial stage, the diminished capacity concept influences the prosecutorial decision about what charge to bring. Given current public concern about crime, the immediate future appears less conducive to defenses that lessen criminal responsibility for harms done. 86 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Criminal intent; Criminal responsibility; Diminished capacity defense
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.