Here’s What You Need to Know About the Insanity Defense
A Johnson County Criminal Defense Attorney Explains Kansas’ Law on Mental Incapacity
Kansas Law provides a mental incapacity defense. However, it is more limited than those defenses (also known as insanity defenses) available in some states. Kansas’ “insanity defense” provides the following:
“It shall be a defense to a prosecution under any statute that the defendant, as a result of mental disease or defect, lacked the culpable mental state required as an element of the crime charged. Mental disease or defect is not otherwise a defense.”
Interpreting Kansas’ law on the insanity defense can be complicated, and the application of this defense depends on the specific facts of your case. A Johnson County criminal defense attorney can help explain Kansas’ insanity defense to you and advocate on your behalf to help you obtain the best result possible for your case. If you were arrested and think Kansas’ insanity defense applies to your case, contact Johnson County criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill today for a free consultation. Jerry is an experienced criminal defense trial attorney who handles various criminal cases ranging from misdemeanors to high-level felonies.
SCOTUS Upholds Kansas’ Insanity Defense in Kahler v. Kansas
In a decision dated March 23, 2020, in Kahler v. Kansas, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) considered whether Kansas’ insanity defense violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Kansas, the insanity defense allows criminal defendants to argue that they cannot be convicted because they lacked the culpable mental state required as an element of the offense charged. The Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not require states to offer a specific formulation of the insanity defense for criminal defendants as long as they provide a form of the insanity defense.
Kansas’ insanity defense is a variant of the two-pronged insanity defense explained in the landmark M’Naghten Case. Under the M’Naghten two-prong test, a defendant cannot be found guilty of a criminal offense if:
1) His mental incapacity made him lack the necessary mens rea (the intention or knowledge of doing something wrong) to be able to understand what the defendant was doing when he committed a crime; or
2) His mental state made him unable to understand that his action was wrong.
Kansas allows the first prong of the M’Naghten test but not the second. Kansas allows criminal defendants to present a mental incapacity defense and present evidence of mental incapacity at the trial’s sentencing phase. The court in Kahler determined that states have the freedom to decide what formulation of the insanity defense may be invoked in their courts and that the mental incapacity defense available in Kansas is enough to satisfy the Due Process requirements.
Next Step: Contact Our Johnson County Criminal Defense Attorney For a Free Consultation
Were you arrested and have questions about the insanity defense? If so, help is available. Contact a Johnson County Criminal Defense Attorney at the Law Office of Jerry Merrill today for a free case evaluation. You can reach us 24/7 by calling 913-381-2085 or by completing our online form.