Jared Loughner, the person allegedly responsible for shooting Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others, is charged with multiple crimes and may be facing the death penalty. He has not yet entered a plea, but reports indicate that he may have suffered from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the alleged crime.
Will He Walk by Pleading Insanity?
Insanity is a legal defense where a defendant’s severe mental illness means that the defense is less or not culpable for committing the crime. Since Loughner has been charged with federal crimes, under the relevant law, insanity exists when the defendant suffers from a mental illness so severe that the defendant could not appreciate the nature and quality of his actions, OR that he did not know what he did was wrong. (18 U.S.C. section 17(a).) This is a high standard, and the burden is on the defense to prove insanity. (Section 17(b).)
Loughner is accused of one count of attempting to assassinate Rep. Giffords, two counts of attempting to murder a federal employee, and two counts of murdering a federal employee, including a federal judge. It seems that significant eyewitness and videotape evidence exists against him. Federal prosecutors will likely seek the death penalty, so it is possible he may plead insanity as a trial tactic to avoid execution.
He may also face state charges for murder under PC 187.
Under California Penal Code section 25(b), the basic definition of insanity is the same as federal law. However, California law also states that a person cannot be found insane solely on the basis of a seizure disorder, personality disorder, or addiction to drugs or alcohol. (CPC 25.5.)
Facing Criminal Charges? Call Wallin & Klarich
If you are accused of a crime but were suffering from a severe mental condition at the time of the alleged act, call an experienced Southern California criminal defense lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney will review the facts and the law and will help you determine the feasibility of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. An insanity defense requires significant preparation and expert witness testimony, so you will need knowledgeable legal representation to guide you through this process.
If you have been accused of murder, you will need an aggressive Southern California criminal defense lawyer to help defend you against one of the most serious offenses in our legal system. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending our clients facing murder charges for over 30 years. Let us help you with you case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich murder attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.