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About half of the states follow the "M'Naughten" rule, based on the 1843 British case of Daniel M'Naughten, a deranged woodcutter who attempted to assassinate the prime minister. Three states -- Montana, Idaho, and Utah -- do not allow the insanity defense at all. Virtually all studies conclude that the insanity defense is raised in less than 1 percent of felony cases, and is successful in only a fraction of those.He was acquitted, and the resulting standard is still used in 26 states in the U. : See this chart showing the standards used by each jurisdiction. The vast majority of those that are successful are the result of a plea agreement in which the prosecution and the defense agree to a not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) plea.S.: A defendant may be found not guilty by reason of insanity if "at the time of committing the act, he was laboring under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong." (emphasis added) This test is also commonly referred to as the "right/wrong" test. A major 1991 eight-state study commissioned by the National Institute of Mental Health found that less than 1 percent of county court cases involved the insanity defense, and that of those, only around one in four was successful.Twenty-two jurisdictions use some variation of the Model Standard set out by the American Law Institute (A. Ninety percent of the insanity defendants had been diagnosed with a mental illness.The court then determines whether and to what extent he requires treatment for mental illness.

The low standard reflects the attempt to provide as many people as possible a day in court, while excluding those individuals who are so sick as to be completely unable to comprehend the proceedings or to assist their attorneys.

Three states -- Montana, Idaho, and Utah -- do not allow the insanity defense.

Defendants must still be found competent to stand trial, and they may introduce evidence of a mental disease or defect as evidence that they did not possess the requisite intent or state of mind (mens rea) to be found guilty. Faced with the difficulty of cases such as Ralph Tortorici's, where a defendant has clearly committed the crimes in question but is obviously mentally ill, many states have adopted laws providing for a "guilty but mentally ill" plea or verdict.

Each state, and the District of Columbia, has its own statute setting out the standard for determining whether a defendant was legally insane, and therefore not responsible, at the time his crime was committed. rule is generally considered to be less restrictive than the M'Naughten rule.

In general, the standards fall into two categories. rule, a defendant is not held criminally responsible "if at the time of his conduct as a result of mental disease or defect he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality (wrongfulness) of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law." (emphasis added) The A. Some states that use the M'Naughten rule have modified it to include a provision for a defendant suffering under "an irresistible impulse" which prevents him from being able to stop himself from committing an act that he knows is wrong. Although cases invoking the insanity defense often receive much media attention, the defense is actually not raised very often.

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