When mental illnesses, disabilities, and other developmental problems contribute to a person’s motivation for committing a crime, it’s necessary to look deeper into the case to identify whether the person is really fit for getting penalized through the justice system. After all, punishing a mentally incapacitated person isn’t “just” when the person didn’t fully understand what they were doing.
That’s why there are laws in place to prevent certain individuals from serving jail time. One such law is the Mental Hygiene Law in Brooklyn.
As you can imagine, some defendants attempt to falsely claim they’re mentally incapacitated or ill in order to minimize their criminal penalties or potentially have them thrown out altogether. This type of legal strategy doesn’t usually work because it’s not easy to produce evidence to prove a mental illness where none exists.
That said, this possibility forces courtrooms to consider whether a person is lying or whether their condition really prevents them from understanding what they’re doing when they attempt to use this type of defense. Just recently, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court has had to contend with this issue.
Ezikiel R, an accused criminal who has been convicted of committing sex crimes, will get a new trial in the Supreme Court of Kings County to reevaluate whether his diagnosis of sexual sadism disorder constitutes a ‘mental abnormality’ under New York’s Mental Hygiene Law. If the court rules that the diagnosis is considered an abnormality, then Ezikiel will likely receive a lighter or reduced sentence. The suspect will also likely have to submit to intense supervision or civil confinement, though. If the diagnosis isn’t considered as such, then the suspect will continue to face his sentence as it is.
Previously, a lower court ruled that Ezikiel’s diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, and sexual sadism disorder did not qualify him for relief or intense supervision under the Mental Hygiene Law. After appealing this decision, a higher court ruled that those would qualify as a mental abnormality.
Understanding How Mental Illness Could Impact a Criminal Case
New York’s Mental Hygiene Law is in place to help advocate for citizens with mental illnesses, disabilities, or conditions that impact the person’s ability to survive and thrive. When a person poses a risk to themselves or someone else, they can be referred to a treatment center in New York. Under this law, sex offenders with specific mental abnormalities must also be considered as offenders who are very likely to re-offend.
As such, these individuals are often recommended for intense supervision and civil confinement. These restrictions can help prevent a future crime from occurring.
Do you believe that a mental illness, disability, or condition could’ve contributed to you or your loved one’s recent criminal activity? Are you concerned that you or your loved one could re-offend without the right intervention? If so, then your best option is to get in touch with an attorney who can help you unpack your options and rights.
Schedule a case review with our team of attorneys now to get started.