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  • Simply being crazy is not enough to excuse criminal behavior in Florida. Our legislature, in Florida Statute 775.027, has determined that in order for the insanity defense to apply to any criminal action, the defendant has the burden to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that:

    1. The defendant had a mental infirmity, disease, or defect; and
    2. Because of this condition, the defendant
      • did not know what he or she was doing or its consequences, or
      • although the defendant knew what he or she was doing and its consequences, the defendant did not know that what he or she was doing was wrong.

    All persons accused of any criminal action are, naturally, presumed by law to be sane.

    Procedure to Use Insanity Defense

    Because Florida law disfavors a trial by ambush, there are specific actions that must be taken prior to putting forth an insanity defense.

    First, a defendant must file a Notice of Intent to Rely Upon the Insantity Defense. The Court will refuse to hear any evidence on this issue without the Notice being filed. Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure outline these requirements. The Notice must be filed within 15 days of arraignment.

    Additionally, the notice shall contain a statement of particulars showing the nature of the insanity the defendant expects to prove and the names and addresses of the witnesses by whom the defendant expects to show insanity, insofar as is possible.

    After filing the Notice, the State will have the opportunity to have the defendant examined by its expert to determine the defendant’s sanity at the time of the commission of the offense.

    What Happens After an Acquittal by Reason of Insanity?

    Generally, speaking, Rule 3.217 sets out three possibilities:

    1. Complete discharge, i.e., nothing.
    2. If the defendant meets the legal criteria (essentially a threat to himself or others), the defendant can be committed to the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Essentially, this means commitment to a State hospital until the person is no longer a threat.
    3. Lastly, the person could be ordered into outpatient treatment at an appropriate facility.

    Free Tampa Criminal Defense Consultation

    Florida criminal defense is complicated and you should not go into court without an expert in your corner. Board Certified Criminal Trial Law attorney Adam Bantner is a professional and will help you achieve the best result possible for your case. Call today at 813.397.3965 to set up your free one-hour consultation.

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