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Stuart Case Challenges Florida’s Insanity Defense

There are several different legal standards for insanity. In order to successfully invoke the insanity defense for any crime, Florida defendants must meet the rigorous legal standard that has been imposed by state law. Florida’s legal standard is more rigorous than other standards used in many other states. This is why it is so important for defendants and their families to consult with an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney about the availability of an insanity defense for any Florida crime. At Stroleny Law, P.A., our experienced Florida defense lawyer can protect your constitutional rights and help prevent wrongful convictions. Call (305) 615-1285 for a free phone consultation as soon as possible.

The M’Naghten Rule

The M’Naghten Rule is one of the strictest legal sanity standards that exists. Florida has invoked this rule as the applicable legal standard for insanity defenses under state law. It holds that, if a defendant understood the nature of his or her conduct and that is was legally prohibited, he or she is still criminally liable for it. This is a hard standard to meet. Compare it, for example, to another legal standard that merely requires the defendant’s conduct be “the product of mental illness”. As you can imagine, mental health experts are much better able to determine that an action was the product of mental illness than they are able to determine what a defendant knew at the time the crime was committed. This is why most defendants who attempt to invoke the M’Naghten standard are unsuccessful, and ultimately held guilty for their crimes.

TC Palm reports that this tough legal standard is being challenged in a case out of Stuart. The defendant is accused of brutally murdering a Tequesta couple in 2016. In attempting to successfully invoke the insanity defense, his attorney is arguing that Florida’s application of the M’Naghten Rule makes it difficult for mentally ill defendants to receive a fair trial. One of the attorney’s arguments focuses on the burden of proof for establishing insanity. Florida uses the “clear and convincing evidence” standard. While not as high as the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”, it is still higher than the civil standard of “a preponderance of the evidence” (meaning more likely than not). The judge has taken the matter under advisement in order to examine other Florida cases that have applied the M’Naghten standard. A ruling for either side could impact other Florida cases examining the insanity defense.

Experienced, Aggressive Representation for All Issues of Mental Competency

The experienced Miami defense lawyer at Stroleny Law, P.A. can protect your constitutional right to participate in your own defense. This means that a defendant must be mentally competent to understand the proceedings against him (or her) and consult with an attorney about their defense. Our skilled lawyer know the appropriate legal strategies and expert witnesses to consult in order to meet the harsh M’Naghten standard. Call (305) 615-1285 or contact us online today. Our staff will schedule a free phone consultation with one of our experienced Miami criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.


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