I suffer from extreme mental health problems and have a true mental health diagnosis. I killed someone and have been charged with Murder. At the time of the killing, I was not on my meds and I was not in my right mind. I want to be able to tell the jury about my mental health condition during my murder trial. My attorney told me that I might be able to bring in my mental health issue to reduce the level of culpability of the murder, but it depends on how the district attorneys charges the case. I don’t understand this at all. I think I should be allowed to bring it in no matter what. Can you explain this to me?
My answer assumes this is not a death qualified case. Also, my answer is going to over simplify the question for purposes of this article. If this is really your case, you should speak with your lawyer about the specifics of how the district attorney is charging you to get a better answer.
You can argue mental health issues only if you are charged with Murder 1 or Murder 2 and argue that you be found guilty of Murder 3 because it negates your intent. However, if you are only charged with Murder 3, your mental health issue is not relevant any more because it cannot negate the intent on Murder 3.
If you truly have the mental health diagnosis, its clear that you are the killer, and the district attorney doesn’t have a good Murder 1 case, a smart district attorney may only move on Murder 3 so as to prevent your mental issue from coming into evidence so the jury won’t feel bad for you and nullify to Manslaughter.
If you are the killer, and that fact is undisputed, you would much prefer to be found guilty of Manslaughter than Murder 3 because the the amount of time you would be facing is FAR less. If your mental health state comes in to evidence the jury could feel bad for you and find you guilty of only Manslaughter even though the jury instruction will be that the mental health only effects the difference between Murder 1 and Murder 3.
Therefore, to prevent the jury from feeling bad for you, the district attorney should not move on Murder 1 and just move on Murder 3 and your mental health issue from coming in. But, if the district attorney moves on Murder 1, your mental state at the time of the killing should come in.
|Murder and Mental Health|