In the state of Wisconsin, it’s possible to use a mental illness defense in criminal cases. Your attorney can enter a plea of “not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect” in your case. Here’s what that means.
Mental Illness Defense in Criminal Cases
Wisconsin law says, “A person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the time of such conduct as a result of mental disease or defect the person lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her conduct or conform his or her conduct to the requirements of law.”
That means that if someone commits a crime but lacks the mental capacity to understand it or change his or her behavior, they’re not going to be held responsible for it. This law protects people who cannot control their actions from being held criminally responsible for them.
However, you can’t simply say that you’re not responsible for a crime because you had a “mental disease or defect” that caused you to commit it. You must have evidence to back up your claim. The court can appoint up to three physicians or psychologists to examine you and testify at your trial, or your attorney may also request that your current physician or psychologist (or professionals you don’t know) come in and testify, as well.
What Happens if Your Mental Illness Defense in a Criminal Case Succeeds?
Generally, if a mental illness defense succeeds, the person accused of the crime will be sent to a mental health treatment facility rather than to jail or prison. Unfortunately, sometimes sentences to mental health facilities are longer than they would be for prison or jail – but they do enable the person to receive treatment.