Find Paper, Faster
Example:10.1021/acsami.1c06204 or Chem. Rev., 2007, 107, 2411-2502
The impact of misdemeanor arrests on forensic mental health services: A state-wide review of Virginia sanity evaluations.
Law and Human Behavior  (IF3.795),  Pub Date : 2020-08-01, DOI: 10.1037/lhb0000417
Brett O Gardner,Daniel C Murrie,Angela N Torres

OBJECTIVE We examined the prevalence of criminal defendants facing only misdemeanor charges and referred for forensic mental health evaluations of legal sanity (criminal responsibility) in a state-wide sample of sanity reports. We sought to describe this population of defendants, particularly as compared to defendants facing felony charges and referred for evaluation of legal sanity. HYPOTHESES We hypothesized that, among those referred for sanity evaluations, defendants facing only misdemeanor charges would have higher rates of serious mental illness than would defendants charged with felonies, as evidenced by their mental status during the evaluation and at the time of alleged offenses. We also hypothesized that defendants charged with only misdemeanors would be more often opined insane, as compared to those charged with felonies. METHOD We reviewed a statewide sample of 926 court-ordered sanity evaluation reports in Virginia and coded numerous variables describing the defendants, sanity evaluation process, resulting reports, and legal opinions offered within the reports. RESULTS Approximately 22.3% of sanity evaluations involved defendants charged only with misdemeanor offenses. Defendants facing only misdemeanor charges were 1.82 times more likely to be opined insane than were defendants facing only felony charges, primarily due to their increased likelihood of experiencing psychotic symptoms at the time of the offense (1.83 times more likely than defendants facing felony charges). CONCLUSIONS The merits of pursuing the insanity defense in response to misdemeanor charges are questionable given the cost- and resource-intensive outcomes associated with insanity acquittals. Diversion strategies may be a more efficient response to those defendants with serious mental illness facing only misdemeanor charges. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).