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The Two Faces of Insanity

Arnold H. Loewy

Texas Tech University School of Law

Texas Tech Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 513, Winter 2009
Texas Tech Law School Research Paper No. 2010-21

One of the great debates surrounding insanity is whether it is an excuse for criminal defendants designed to exculpate otherwise guilty people or whether it is a device used by the government to inculpate otherwise innocent people. The short answer is both. Sometimes, insanity is used to exculpate someone who is otherwise guilty, while other times, the state successfully chooses to punish those who, because of their insane delusions, lack criminal intent.

In my view, insanity should rarely exculpate and never implicate. Thus, on the one hand, when insanity is invoked as a defense by one who has been proven guilty of the requisite mens rea and actus reus for the crime, insanity should rarely, if ever, exculpate. On the other hand, when the defendant lacks the requisite mens rea to commit the crime, whether because of insanity or any other non-self-induced reason, the defendant should not be guilty.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 11

Keywords: Insanity Defense, criminal law

JEL Classification: K14, K42

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Date posted: July 13, 2010 ; Last revised: August 2, 2010

Suggested Citation

Loewy, Arnold H., The Two Faces of Insanity. Texas Tech Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 513, Winter 2009; Texas Tech Law School Research Paper No. 2010-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1639095

Contact Information

Arnold H. Loewy (Contact Author)
Texas Tech University School of Law ( email )
1802 Hartford
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States
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