Three Things You Should Know about Pleading Insanity as a Defense

You may be tempted to feign insanity if you are charged with a serious crime. Many people who have never faced the reality of being institutionalized might feel it is an attractive alternative to prison. However, the truth is very different than what is portrayed in the media.

1. You May Spend More Time Locked Up

If you are declared not guilty by reason of insanity, you may be confined to a state mental facility, and you may remain there until you have been declared sane and there may be other restrictions such as placement upon release. Some people spend more time in a cell being locked for mental illness than they would have if they had taken a guilty plea.

Some persons have been convicted anyway and had to serve their time first, and then were taken to a mental health facility. If the charge is very serious, such as murder, there is a very real possibility that you could spend the rest of your life being institutionalized.

In a "guilt first" state, guilt may determined first and then sanity is evaluated, so a defendant may spend time first in treatment and then if they are eventually declared sane, they will spend the remainder of their time incarcerated.

2. Mental Institutions are not country clubs

Despite the impression the media pundits want to give you, state mental institutions are not fun places to be. Many people who have been sent to one will tell you they would rather be incarcerated.

You may find that a minimum security prison offers more freedom and benefits than you would get in a state hospital. Even a medium security prison can offer a chance to work and earn money or other benefits, which would be denied you in a mental health unit.

Because you will be going in as a legal justice patient, you could be going into an especially restrictive unit of the hospital.

You will probably have one or more roommates and they could have any number of mental issues. You could be subjected to rooming with someone who is bipolar and will go for nights at a time without sleep, or someone who has borderline or antisocial personality disorder and has violent tendencies. It only takes a few patients to make a unit feel nearly intolerable because of the noise, attention-seeking, and strange behaviors.

The rules can be so restrictive that you won't even be allowed writing materials, books, games, cell phones, tech devices, or simple grooming materials in your room. There are TVs in common areas, and you may be allowed to use gaming materials or write with your personal materials under staff supervision. You may be limited to only a few phone calls a day or in a week.

As far as educational opportunities go, there may be basic skills classes such as GED, but there aren't any college classes offered.

You may be prescribed medications that have debilitating side effects but your doctor could feel that the adverse affects are outweighed by the benefits. There could be a court order in place to force you to take them whether you want them or not. Many hospitals have gone to a caffeine and tobacco free environment. Also, salt or other condiments may be restricted or not provided at mealtime.

3. If you do have a mental illness, there are benefits. 

In short, being institutionalized will not be the rosy place you may have pictured so if you are of sane mind, the smart thing would be to work with your lawyer, one like Guth Law Offices LLC, to get a decent plea agreement, or to prepare a different kind of defense.

However, if you do have a mental illness, a state mental facility would be the best place for you. You would get excellent physical and mental health treatment, you would learn ways to effectively deal with your condition, and you would receive valuable types of assistance when and if you are discharged. These are things that are not available when you are incarcerated.