Under Illinois law, you may be legally insane if, at the time you committed a crime, you suffered from a mental disease or defect such that you lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct. (See 720 ILCS 5/6-2(a)). Generally that means you didn’t understand you were doing something wrong. As such, efforts to cover up your crime may undermine an insanity defense.

If you raise the defense, you have the burden of proving insanity by clear and convincing evidence. The state need not put on expert testimony to prove you are sane, but may rely on existing evidence to counter your case. The state must still prove you guilty of the crime itself beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mental illness, bizarre behavior or delusional behavior do not necessarily mean legal insanity but may be factors to consider in determining your capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct.

For example, in People v. Plackowska, the defendant stabbed two children and two dogs to death. The court found that while defendant had a mental illness, her efforts to put the knife down the garbage disposal, discard her cell phone and make up a story about an intruder proved that she knew she was committing a crime.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. If your sanity may be at issue, an attorney can help select and prepare any mental health experts on your behalf.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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