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NCJ Number: 164472 Find in a Library
Title: California's Diminished Capacity Defense: Evolution and Transformation
Journal: Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law  Volume:24  Issue:3  Dated:(1996)  Pages:347-366
Author(s): R Weinstock; G B Leong; J A Silva
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 20
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The diminished capacity defense survives in California as a severely attenuated mens rea defense known as diminished actuality.
Abstract: As opposed to the all-or-none insanity defense, mens rea defense permits gradations of guilt but is generally inapplicable unless elements of a crime are redefined to permit consideration of motivational aspects. California's change from a diminished capacity defense to a diminished actuality defense represents a return to the complex, somewhat artificial legal concept of intent and a resurrection of confusing and antiquated common law definitions. The change was made in response to an unpopular jury verdict and a political climate in which little interest existed for understanding reasons behind the commission of a crime. The authors point out that some of the later restrictions imposed by the California Supreme Court on allowing voluntary intoxication to reduce murder to voluntary manslaughter should not apply to mental illness. They also indicate that knowledge of complex mens rea issues and relevant defenses is essential for any forensic psychiatrist who evaluates defendants in jurisdictions where such defenses are admissible. 55 references
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): California; Competency to stand trial; Criminal intent; Criminology; Diminished capacity defense; Forensic psychiatry; Forensic psychology; Insanity defense; Psychological evaluation; Psychologists role in criminal justice
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