Measurement of Insanity in the Legal Context

Measurementof Insanity in the Legal Context

Measurementof Insanity in the Legal Context

Insanityis one of the key conditions that are considered when decidingwhether the suspects are guilty or not. Courts use different tests toassess the sanity of the suspects. This paper will analyze three ofthe common tests of insanity, including the M’Naghten test forinsanity, Model Penal Code, and Irresistible impulse.

Question1: Elements of the three rules used in the measurement of insanity

TheM’Naghten Rule holds that suspects cannot be held guilty in casethey had no capacity to comprehend the nature or distinguish thewrong from the right at the time of committing the crime in question.The act should also be linked to an underlying mental condition thatreduced the capacity of the suspect to understand the quality as wellas the nature of the crime (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2014).

Thetest of Irresistible Impulse contradicts the M’Naghten Rule in afew aspects. This test holds that the court should not only look atthe suspect’s capacity to differentiate what is wrong from what isright, but also determine whether the perpetrator had the ability tocontrol their actions from an irresistible mental condition (CornellUniversity Law School, 2016). This test is based on the assumptionthat people may have the ability to understand the quality as well asthe nature of their crimes, but lack adequate capacity to avoid them.This category of suspects should not be held guilty, but the courtshould consider that they acted under the duress of the underlyingmental condition.

Thetest of the Model of Penal Code is stricter than other types ofmental assessment. The elements of this test hold that people may notbe held guilty in case they have been diagnosed with a mentalcondition by a licensed professional and fulfill either of the twoconditions. First, the suspects cannot appreciate the criminality oftheir conduct. Secondly, they cannot match their conduct to the legalrequirements (Cornell University Law School, 2016).

Question2: Arrests

Thelaw enforcement agents are given some privileges to apply a forcethat can be considered to be reasonable to arrest the suspects.However, the process of arresting people is guided by the law andcodes of conduct (Hall, 2014). For example, it is unethical for thelaw enforcement to encourage children to engage in criminal activityin order to arrest and prosecute children. Similarly, it is unethicalfor law enforcement to use friend and family relationships to inducea person to engage in criminal activities or even prey with someone’salcohol and drug addiction. Law enforcement agents are given themandate of apprehending people who have already committed the crimeor prevent those who are planning to engage in criminal activity,instead of encouraging people to engage in illegal behavior.

Question3: Ira case study

Iracould be convicted by a court that uses the M’Naghten Rule becausethe medical condition did not affect his ability to determine thenature as well as the quality of his criminal activity. However, acourt that applies the irresistible impulse test cannot convict Irabecause he had lost control over his actions at the time of injuringhis friend. Similarly, a court that applies the Model Penal Code testcannot convict Ira because he had lost his ability to conform hisconduct to the legal requirement that prohibit people from injuriesothers at the time of committing the crime. It had also beenconfirmed by a licensed psychiatrist that Ira was suffering from amental condition.

Question4: The case of Jane, trespass and battery

Janehas a defense for the two actions, given the circumstances in whichshe committed them. For example, she can apply the principle ofprivate necessity to justify her decision to trespass to theneighbor’s premises (Claeys, 2013). She can successfully use thisdefense by showing the court that her life was in danger that wascaused by an unknown man who was chasing her and the neighbor’spremise was the only immediate place where she could take refuge. Inthe case of battery, Jane can proof before the court that strikingher neighbor was the only strategy that she could use to get into thehouse and save her life. In addition, Jane can convince the courtthat she did not intend to injure her neighbor and the force used wasproportionate to the magnitude of the threat.

Inconclusion, the different suspects can be considered guilty orinnocent of the same criminal activity depending on the type of testused by the court to assess insanity. Some of the key factorsconsidered include the ability to determine the quality as well asthe nature of a crime, control over one’s actions, and conformone`s activities to the law.


Claeys,R. (2013). Onthe property and the tort in trespass.Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

CornellUniversity Law School (2016). Insanity defense. CornellUniversity Law School.Retrieved July 25, 2016, from

Hall,E. (2014). Criminallaw and procedure.Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

WGBHEducational Foundation (2014). From Daniel M’Naghten to JohnHinckley: A brief history of the insanity defense. WGBHEducational Foundation.Retrieved July 25, 2016, from