Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney on Not Criminally Responsible or Insanity Pleas

Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney – Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer – Baltimore Criminal Attorney – Baltimore Criminal Lawyer – Drug Offenses, Assault, Domestic Violence, Sex Offenses, Rape, Armed Robbery, Murder – These are just a few of the offenses wherein an experienced criminal attorney in Maryland may choose to file a Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) plea, commonly known as an insanity plea. A story in the Baltimore Sun today got me thinking about NCR pleas.

It is really more of a puff peace on the presiding judge, Emory Plitt, of the Harford County Circuit Court, but the article briefly discusses the NCR plea in the context of a strangulation murder by a DOC inmate of another inmate while on a bus enroute to court. If NCR is plead in a given case the defense will have to show that by reason of mental disorder or retardation, the defendant, lacks substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or conform his conduct to the requirements of the law. The first step in the process will be for the court to order an evaluation of the defendant by the State Department of Health and Mental Hygene. The defense may also arrange for psychiatric professionals of their choosing to evaluate the defendant as well. Not criminally responsible is an extremely high standard under which infamous serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer have been found to be criminally responsible. At the same time the determination is made as to criminal responsiblility, an independent determination will be made as to whether or not the defendant is competent to stand trial. The definition for competency is whether or not the defendant is capable of understanding the nature and object of the proceedings against him and is capable of assisting in his own defense. If a defendant is found to be incompetent or not criminally repsonsible then he will be committed to the Department of Health and Mental Hygene where he will be housed indefinitely in a facility for the mentally ill. If the finding is one of incompetency the defendant can only be brought to trial if he is later found to be competent by the court. In the case of a not criminally repsonsible finding the defendant can only be released if a court determines at a hearing in the future that the person no longer represents a danger to himself or others. The defendant bears the burden of proving that he is no longer a danger to himself or others by a preponderance of the evidence.

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