Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984 Law and Legal Definition
The Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984 (Act) was the first comprehensive U.S. federal law governing the insanity defense and the disposition of individuals suffering from a mental disease or defect who are involved in the criminal justice system.
The Insanity Defense Reform Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 17, bars the introduction of evidence of a defendant's mental disease or defect to demonstrate that he lacks substantial capacity to control his actions or reflect upon the consequences or nature of his actions. [United States v. Brown, 326 F.3d 1143 (10th Cir. 2003)].
Some of the important provisions of the Act are:
a. The Act significantly modified the standard for insanity previously applied in the federal courts.
b. Shifted the burden of proof on the defendant to establish the insanity defense by clear and convincing evidence.
c. Eliminated the defense of diminished capacity.
d. Limited the scope of expert testimony on ultimate legal issues.
e. Provided for federal commitment of persons who become insane after having been found guilty or while serving a federal prison sentence.
f. Created a special verdict of "not guilty only by reason of insanity," which triggers a commitment proceeding.