As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, the mental health costs continue to rise. People with pre-existing mental health challenges are at a higher risk of becoming more anxious and depressed. News outlets are continually covering the dangers of the coronavirus for 24 hours a day. Social distancing and quarantines could have a dangerous effect on people with mental health conditions. Those who struggle with anti-social, violent or suicidal thoughts can become more at risk of harming themselves or others after periods of isolation.
We Have Successfully Defended Clients with Mental Health Issues
At Glasgow & Olsson, our law firm is one of the only law firms in the area that has successfully defended criminal charges in which our clients have had mental health issues. Should someone with serious mental health issues become overwhelmed during the social isolation and panic involving coronavirus, our law firm can help defend against those charges. Most people are familiar with a not guilty verdict, but there are three other different possible outcomes to a case involving a mental health issue:guilty but mentally ill; not guilty by reason of insanity; and not not guilty.
Understanding a Guilty but Mentally Ill Verdict in Illinois
Guilty but mentally ill is a possible outcome when a defendant asserts the insanity defense. When a defendant raises the issue as to his or her sanity at the time of the crime, they can raise the insanity defense at trial. The Court or the jury may find that the defendant was not legally insane at the time of the offense, but suffered from a mental illness that does not qualify legally as insanity. Defendants who receive the verdict of guilty but mentally ill receive the same type of prison sentencing as do defendants found guilty without mental illness. Attorneys in the criminal world frequently comment that being found guilty but mentally ill is like being found guilty but bad breath. The defendant still goes to prison. They still serve their sentences and they almost never see the inside of a mental health hospital in the state. Defendants who receive this type of sentence receive treatment for mental health issues by Illinois Department of Corrections officials when they arrive at prison to serve their sentences.
Understanding a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity Verdict
Not guilty by reason of insanity is an affirmative defense to a crime. That means the defendant admits to the crime they committed, but suffered from a disease of mental defect that did not allow them to understand the criminality of their actions. An example of this type of disease is schizophrenia. When a person loses touch with reality and becomes delusional, they can be found legally insane and not responsible for their crimes.
Many laymen think when a person is found not guilty by reason of insanity, they walk away without being sentenced. Nothing is further from the truth. People found not guilty by reason of insanity are remanded to the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services for a period not more than the maximum amount of time they could have been sentenced to if they were sent to prison. So if a person is facing 30 years in the penitentiary and found not guilty by reason of insanity, they can be held for up to 30 years in the custody of mental health facilities for their actions.
A person who claims the insanity defense, the state first has the burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and then the burden shifts to the defendant who then has the burden to prove at trial by clear and convincing evidence that they suffer from a disease or mental defect when they committed the crime that they suffered from a disease or mental defect that did not allow them to understand the criminality of their actions. A defendant proves that he or she is legally insane and not criminally responsible for his or her actions because he or she lacks the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of the conduct due to a mental defect or disease.
Not Guilty Verdicts When Clients are Unfit for Trial
When a defendant has a mental condition that renders him or her unable to comprehend the proceedings against him or her, the court may determine the defendant unfit to stand trial. The court will hold a hearing to determine the defendant’s fitness. Both sides can present evidence and an expert is usually called in to evaluate the defendant. If the defendant can never be made fit for trial through treatment or drugs, then that person can be discharged from the case by being found not not guilty.
Prison vs. Mental Health Treatment After a Criminal Conviction
Mental health cases are difficult and challenging. Our firm has successfully handled many mental cases for our clients facing a variety of charges. Depending on the charge and circumstances, the criminal defense team at Glasgow & Olsson can fight hard for you to receive mental health treatment instead of prison. Contact our Cook County criminal defense law firm today to schedule your consultation to discuss these possible outcomes.