Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity in Georgia
Georgia law provides certain protections for people who are mentally ill and charged with crimes. O.C.G.A. § 16-3-2 says that a person charged with a crime can be found not guilty by reason of insanity if, at the time of the crime, the person did not have the mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong. Georgia case law clarifies that this does not mean that any mental illness or psychosis will allow a person to be found not guilty by reason of insanity, but only if the defendant is suffering from a delusion that overpowered their will to resist committing the crime. Additionally, the act the defendant committed must have been justified under Georgia law if the delusion the defendant was suffering from was true.
What does this mean? Let’s say that a person was suffering from a delusion that their neighbor was trying to kill them. If the neighbor really were trying to kill them, the person would be justified under Georgia law in defending themselves. So, if the person who believed the neighbor was trying to kill them attacked the neighbor, they could be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
This is a distinct issue from whether an individual is competent to stand trial. In order to be found competent to stand trial a person must understand the proceedings going on against him and be capable of helping their attorney prepare their defense. In short, a person could be found competent to stand trial but still found not guilty by reason of insanity.
If you or a loved one are charged with a serious crime like murder or aggravated assault and believe you were suffering from a delusional compulsion at the time of the crime, it is crucial that you hire an experienced attorney to protect you. Not guilty by reason of insanity defenses are tricky but the lawyers at W. Scott Smith are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the justice system so that they can get the help they need. If you are charged in Fulton, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Henry, Dekalb, Clayton, Cobb, or Newton County and have questions about pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.