And this is why the “insanity plea” very rarely is argued in real life, even more rarely works in front of a jury, and most commonly, when successful, results in the accused being kept in psychiatric facilities for at LEAST as long as their jail sentence would have been (in fact, I believe the average is twice as long as they would have been in jail for, for things like murder or assault).
I should note my source, probably, but I can’t remember the exact issue… it was an issue of Skeptic magazine, which had to have been published within the last three years or so. If that helps remotely even at all. >.>
Given Douglas thought he was defending himself from a dragon (legal) not trying to kill Tina (illegal), doesn’t he lack the mens rea to be guilty of murder?
I think that’s the point of the whole thing. He was intending to defend himself from a vicious, man eating beast, not kill a human being. However, he is still obviously extremely dangerous – more so than somebody who intended to kill a human being. So he gets treatment instead
And since these disorders, at the point where you would kill a person, are very severe, they might as well have been arrested due to how long it may take to help them, if it is even possible to
The clear solution to this is to argue that dragons are a protected species. No? Okay then, perhaps not.
Also, as mentioned in the section on the mistaken farmer, mens rea refers to your intended course of action, not the intended legality of those actions. Douglas intended to attack ‘the dragon’, so he has a mens rea of intent. The point here is that he was not in a reasonable state of mind, and that he did not fully comprehend his actions or their consequences. So in a sense, you could say his mens rea was more innocent than it would have been had he knowingly killed Tina.
I think Douglas actually intended self-defense.
I think I, if I were a judge, would consider requiring some minimal term in jail after treatment, in order to emphasize to Douglas that he needs to make damn sure that he stays not-insane. For example, if it turns out to be a chemical imbalance which is readily and quickly treated with pills, so that he’s out of care in mere weeks.
That would be neither allowed nor productive. What a judge might do is ask the physician caring for the paitent to keep him or her under observation before releasing him. This would normally not be the judge that oversaw the criminal trial, but rather a seperate judge who would administer the civil comittment proceedings.
The problem is that just having the “mens rea” of self-defense isn’t legally sufficient anyway (at least for the “complete” version of the defense: in some places mens rea alone can get you a reduced charge). You have to REASONABLY believe that you were under attack, meaning there has to be some objective basis for the belief. This case obviously lacks that factor.