Mental Illness

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In order to be convicted of a crime in Oklahoma, the prosecution must prove all of that crime’s elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The criminal defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates are FIERCE ADVOCATES for every client and will hold the government to their burden in your case.

Sometimes, however, a person might have a defense to why they did, or why they could not have, committed a certain crime. To have a Mental Illness in Oklahoma, Defense must raise the Defense of Mental Illness and asserts he or she should be found not guilty by reason of mental illness for the crime. Our firm has substantial experience representing those that suffer from a mental illness or mental disorder and are facing criminal charges. The following is a detailed summary of the laws that apply to mental illness as a defense under Oklahoma criminal law.

Jury Instruction

Under Oklahoma law, no person can be convicted of a crime if that person was:

1) mentally ill at the time of the commission of the acts or omissions that constitute the crime, and

2) was either unable to understand the nature and consequences of his or her actions or was unable to differentiate right from wrong, and

3) has not been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder which substantially contributed to the act for which the person has been charged.

The existence of mental illness standing alone is not sufficient to establish the Defense of Mental Illness. Instead, a person is not guilty by reason of mental illness when that person committed the act for which the person has been charged while mentally ill and was either:

  1. unable to understand the nature and consequences of his or her actions or
  2. Was unable to differentiate right from wrong, and has not been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder which substantially contributed to the act for which the person has been charged.

The major difference between not guilty by reason of mental illness and guilty with a mental defect is whether the defendant has been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder that substantially contributed to the act for which the defendant has been charged. “Antisocial personality disorder” is a condition is commonly called sociopathy, and it is characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others and an impoverished moral sense or conscience.

A person is guilty with mental defect if that person committed the act for which the person was charged and was either unable to understand the nature and consequences of his or her actions or was unable to differentiate right from wrong, and has been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder which substantially contributed to the act for which the person has been charged. At the end of these instructions you will be asked to determine whether the Defendant is guilty, guilty with a mental defect, not guilty, or not guilty by reason of mental illness.

The consequences of a verdict of not-guilty by reason of mental illness, and guilty with mental defect, are as follows: If the jury decides that the defendant is not guilty by reason of mental illness at the time of the commission of the crime charged, the defendant shall not be released from confinement in a mental hospital until the court determines that the defendant is dangerous to the public peace and safety by being a risk of harm to himself/herself or others on account of a mental illness. If the jury decides that the defendant is guilty with mental defect, the jury shall then determine the proper punishment as prescribed in the Instructions.

Oklahoma Jury Instruction #8-31.

Oklahoma Statute

The statute for the Mental Illness is OKLA. STAT. tit. 21 § 1611, which states that an act committed by a person in a state of mental illness or mental defect shall be adjudicated as guilty with mental defect or as not guilty by reason of mental illness.

  1. To assist the court in its determination, the court shall immediately issue an order for the person to be examined by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at a facility the Department has designated to examine and treat forensic individuals.
  2. Upon the issuance of the order, the sheriff shall deliver the person to the designated facility. Each examiner shall, within thirty-five (35) days of hospitalization, individually prepare and submit to the court, the district attorney and the trial counsel of the person a report of the psychiatric examination findings of the person and an evaluation concerning whether the person is dangerous to the public peace or safety.
  3. If the court finds that the person is not dangerous to the public peace or safety because the person is a person requiring treatment and is not in need of continued supervision as a result of unresolved symptoms of mental illness or a history of treatment noncompliance, it shall immediately discharge the person from hospitalization.
  4. If at any time the court finds the person is not dangerous to the public peace or safety because the person is a person requiring treatment, but is in need of continued supervision as a result of unresolved symptoms of mental illness or a history of treatment noncompliance, the court may:
    1. Discharge the person pursuant to the procedure set forth in this section;
    2. Discharge the person, and upon the motion of the court or the district attorney commence civil involuntary commitment proceedings against the person pursuant to the provisions of Title 43A of the Oklahoma Statutes; or
    3. Order conditional release. Upon motion by the district attorney or upon a recommendation for conditional release or discharge by the Forensic Review Board, the court shall conduct a hearing to ascertain if the person is dangerous and a person requiring treatment. This hearing shall be conducted under the same procedure as the first hearing and must occur not less than ten (10) days following the motion or request by the Forensic Review Board.

What the Skilled Lawyers at Cannon & Associates Can Do For You

Being charged with a crime in Oklahoma is a serious matter. The Oklahoma criminal defense attorneys at Cannon & Associates are Fierce Advocates for Families and Freedom and will fight for you! At Cannon & Associates, we have extensive representing those with mental illness  experience, and will be with you every step of the way. We will take care to explain the issues and options to get you to your desired result and support you in this difficult time.

Contact – Cannon & Associates: Oklahoma Criminal Defense

Cannon & Associates is dedicated to Fierce Advocacy for Oklahoma criminal defendants and will fight for you. Founder John Cannon has been recognized as a Super Lawyer and Top 40 under 40. Contact Cannon & Associates to protect your rights and fight your criminal case in Oklahoma. Complete the CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE NOW or CALL at 405-657-2323 for a free confidential case evaluation.


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