Georgia Suggested Pattern Jury Instructions
Volume II: Criminal Cases
Current through July 2011 updates
3.80.20 Insanity at Time of Act (Right and Wrong)
A person shall not be found guilty of a crime if, at the time of the act, omission, or negligence constituting the crime, that person did not have the mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong in relation to the act, omission, or negligence.
In regard to the question of sanity or insanity at the time of the alleged criminal act, there is a test to determine whether the person is suffering such a degree of insanity that the person is not capable of committing a crime. The test is whether the insanity was such that it deprived that person of the mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong in relation to the act, omission, or negligence that the person allegedly committed.
The perpetrator may be what is commonly referred to as insane--in a loose and general sense--yet in the eyes of the law, he/she may be sane and responsible so far as the act in question is concerned if, at the time of the commission of the alleged act, the accused had sufficient capacity to distinguish between the right and wrong of the particular act. This is a question of fact to be determined by you.
Mere weak-mindedness, mental abnormality, mild retardation, or mental state shown only by repeated unlawful or antisocial conduct, which does not amount to insanity, is not a defense to a crime if the person had the mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong in relation to the alleged offense when the alleged offense was committed.
Insanity may be only a temporary malady, and if the accused did not have sufficient mental capacity to distinguish between right and wrong with reference to the act alleged in this indictment at the time that act was committed, then the accused would not be criminally responsible. The test of criminal responsibility is the condition of the mind of the accused at the time of the commission of the alleged act.
If a person of unsound mind has intervals of understanding, during which that person can distinguish between the right and wrong of a particular act, then that person shall answer for that act if it was committed during those periods of understanding.
If, due to an affliction of the mind, a person’s mind is so impaired that the person is incapable of forming the intent to commit the act with which he/she is charged or to understand that a certain consequence would likely result from that act, then that person would not be criminally responsible for the act.
The defendant has the burden of proving insanity by a preponderance of evidence.a1
If you believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the act charged in this bill of indictment but also believe by a preponderance of evidence that at the time of the commission of this act, the defendant was mentally incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong regarding this particular act, then it would be your duty to acquit the defendant because of insanity.
I have already defined what “beyond a reasonable doubt” means. Now let me tell you what “preponderance of evidence” means. It means evidence on the issues involved that, while not enough to free the mind from a reasonable doubt, is yet sufficient to incline a reasonable and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than to the other.
If you find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity, then you must specify this in your verdict and your deliberations cease. In that event, the form of your verdict would be, “We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity.”
Should you find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime, the defendant will be committed to a state mental health facility until such time, if ever, the court is satisfied that he/she should be released pursuant to law.
Harris v. State, 256 Ga. 350, 355 (1986) (burden of proof)
(Note: See 3.00.00, Affirmative Defense; Definition; Burden of Proof, for affirmative defenses generally.)
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