Monday, June 23, 2008

Bipolar Disorder as a Criminal Defense

In the wake of Edward Renehan's attempted use of his bipolar disorder as a defense for stealing multiple items at multiple times from the collections of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, the New York Sun's Jay Akasie examines the issues surrounding this particular legal strategy. He quotes defense attorney Murray Richman: "Using bipolar disorder as a defense in a case is just not viable. It's absolutely not a defense — it's an excuse. It has nothing to do with a person's ability to know right from wrong."

Other lawyers told Akasie that "bipolar disorder can have so-called jury appeal if the sufferer has a long and well-documented history of aberrant behavior coupled with requests for institutional help," and that documented cases of bipolar disorder can be used to achieve more favorable plea deals. Most often, however, because bipolar disorder primarily "affects mood rather than cognition," it is not considered a valid insanity defense.

5 comments:

Björn said...

This strategy reminds me pretty much of an episode in "Boston Legal", season one. There it worked, I think!

Hillary said...

I have bipolar myself and I agree that you still know right from wrong even during a manic state. I did become manic and spent an obscene amount of money and had the delusional belief that God will send me money so there is no need to worry. But never did it occur to me to steal anything. Actually even in my recovery group everyone got in trouble when the bills came due not cause of stealing.

Wendy said...

I also experience states of manic.
I find it a little egotistical that one victim of bi-polar would ever judge the actions or intent of anothers.
I have met numerous bi-polar patients no one are ever alike.

Steven said...

Bipolar Disorder is a serious illness that does affect your cognition by impairing your reasoning and judgement. Most bi-polar people make stupid choices though reasonable to the bipolar person at the time because of this. Often times, Bipolar people act out thier inhibitions that come from the sub-concious mind. The sub-concious mind is like an unbridled horse that is free to roam where and whenever it wants creating havoc. Unless a Bi-polar person learns to bring that horse from the sub-concious mind to the concious so that a bridle can be put on it and let to do what is socially acceptable then he/she will find themselves in imminent trouble either financially, socially, or even addicted to drugs, alchohol, sex or gambling. This is why most insurance carriers will not wright a policy for Bi-Polar people. That will change 7-1-2010 with the new mental health parity act that will force health insurance carriers to cover Bi-Polar people and treat them like every one else. Educate yourself on the symtoms of Bi-Polar Disorder and you will see how distructive it can be. I am Bi-Polar and had no clue that I was until I went way overboard...

karim said...

Very thoughtfull post on Sub Concious Mind . It should be very much helpfull.

Thanks,
Karim - Positive thinking