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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 89955 Find in a Library
Title: History of the Insanity Defense in New York State
Author(s): R A Carter
Corporate Author: New York State
Library Legislative Research Service
United States of America
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 48
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
New York State
Albany, NY 12234
Publication Number: S-3
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Bibliography
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper reviews laws and judicial decisions bearing upon the insanity defense in New York State.
Abstract: Before the M'Naghten rule, New York courts followed the established English common law, which held that no person could be held responsible for an act committed while deprived of reason. The first time the M'Naghten rule was applied in New York State was in the judge's charge to the jury in People v. Kleim (1845); however, it was up to a higher court to declare M'Naghten the rule for insanity defenses in the State. Until the State's first comprehensive insanity defense statute was passed in 1881, what constituted insanity continued to rest on judicial opinion. In the Revised Penal Law, effective September 1, 1967, the State sought to soften the rigidity of the M'Naghten rule contained in section 1120 of the former Penal Law. Recognizing the advances in psychiatric knowledge, the new law substituted a much broader concept of 'understanding' in place of the old M'Naghten word 'know.' Under this new definition, a sense of guilt as evidenced by concealment or flight is not an adequate measure of understanding of the act, since it may reflect a mere surface knowledge of the wrong done rather than a true comprehension of the nature of the act. Although there have been no revisions to section 30.05 since its enactment in 1965, the result has not been satisfactory to all. The appendixes contain a glossary of terms, the New York State insanity defense statute as of January 1982, materials on the legislative intent of section 30.05, excerpts from important court decisions in other jurisdictions, and a bibliography of 221 listings.
Index Term(s): Insanity defense; New York; State laws
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