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Depressed but not legally mentally impaired

Depressed but not legally mentally impaired
Depressed but not legally mentally impaired
This article examines the mental impairment (insanity) defense in the Australian state of Victoria and argues that the defense is successful only when offenders suffer from psychotic mental illnesses. This raises the question about how non-psychotic offenders are dealt with by the courts when they claim ‘mental impairment’ for serious acts of violence such as homicide, particularly when a relatively large number of perpetrators involved in homicide suffer from non-psychotic illnesses like depression. The analysis shows that depressive illnesses do not reach the threshold for mental impairment (legal insanity) such that they mitigate violent criminal behavior, although they can, arguably, diminish culpability. This article draws upon existing literature, qualitative analysis of two court cases and semi-structured interviews with four legal representatives to make its conclusions
mental illness, violent crime, psychotic illness, mental impairment, depression
0160-2527
160-167
Wondemaghen, Meron
ffb7f092-1b45-4e9d-94d5-52484047961f
Wondemaghen, Meron
ffb7f092-1b45-4e9d-94d5-52484047961f

Wondemaghen, Meron (2014) Depressed but not legally mentally impaired. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 37 (2), 160-167. (doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2013.11.010).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article examines the mental impairment (insanity) defense in the Australian state of Victoria and argues that the defense is successful only when offenders suffer from psychotic mental illnesses. This raises the question about how non-psychotic offenders are dealt with by the courts when they claim ‘mental impairment’ for serious acts of violence such as homicide, particularly when a relatively large number of perpetrators involved in homicide suffer from non-psychotic illnesses like depression. The analysis shows that depressive illnesses do not reach the threshold for mental impairment (legal insanity) such that they mitigate violent criminal behavior, although they can, arguably, diminish culpability. This article draws upon existing literature, qualitative analysis of two court cases and semi-structured interviews with four legal representatives to make its conclusions

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More information

Published date: March 2014
Keywords: mental illness, violent crime, psychotic illness, mental impairment, depression
Organisations: Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 380251
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/380251
ISSN: 0160-2527
PURE UUID: 2aec98fe-d085-4aab-bb9d-afb5103863cf

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Sep 2015 15:24
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 21:09

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