It is a sad but true fact that mental illness can make it difficult to control your behavior. You may even find yourself arrested for a crime because of something you did while you were unable to understand what your were doing, or stop yourself.
The criminal justice system in New Jersey, along with virtually every other U.S. state, provides an insanity defense. Traditionally, the legal standard for proving insanity was quite high, probably because mental illness was not as well understood. The defendant had to show that he or she could not tell right from wrong at the time he or she committed the crime.
A New Jersey man has been found not guilty of child pornography charges by reason of insanity in another state. Prosecutors agreed with the defendant's attorney that he could not understand what he was doing at the time, due to symptoms from schizophrenia.
People at a library in Illinois said that they witnessed the defendant looking at pictures of underage girls on a computer, and printing out some of the pictures. The defendant later returned, but was unable to log into the network, so he left.
Police pulled him over, and brought him to the station for questioning. Meanwhile, other officers searched his car after seizing it for allegedly being parked illegally. They said they found more than 300 illegal photographs, prescription drugs and other items.
Under other circumstances, the defendant could have faced serious criminal penalties. But it appears that it was undeniable to prosecutors that the New Jersey man could not realize what he was doing, due to his mental illness.
He is currently being held in a state hospital. It is not clear if he will be allowed to return to New Jersey, or if he wishes to go back.
Successfully arguing an insanity defense can be complex. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side would make a big difference.
Source: Pontiac Daily Leader, "N.J. man found not guilty by reason of insanity," Cynthia Grau, Jan. 30, 2014