The Insanity Defense In Alabama

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Many individuals are not aware that there are several types of insanity defenses that are used by various states throughout the country. To determine whether an insanity defense is successful, the state of Alabama uses what is called the M'Naghten rule, which is a legal theory that originated in 1843. Individuals in the state of Alabama who are interested in pleading the insanity defense often find it essential to contact an experienced Birmingham criminal defense attorney who knows how to plead the strongest insanity defense possible. There are also some important pieces of information that individuals in Birmingham should know regarding the M'Naghten rule and insanity defense in the state of Alabama.

The History Of The M'Naghten Rule

The M'Naghten rule arises from the laws of England and a case in which a British man shot and killed the secretary of the English Prime Minister. The assassin was subsequently acquitted for reasons of insanity. The analysis by which the assassin was deemed insanity subsequently became known as the M'Naghten rule. Today, the M'Naghten rule is followed in many states including Alabama. The M'Naghten defense, however, is rarely used in the state of Alabama and a comprehensive study showed that the defense is only cited in less than one percent of reviewed cases.

The Two Parts of The M'Naghten Rule

The M'Naghten rule is divided into two separate sections: an individual must demonstrate both that the individual did not understand the nature and quality of the act that was committed and that that the individual was unable to distinguish between right or wrong. Courts in the state of Alabama analyze an individual's sanity at the time of the commission of a crime. In order for an individual to successfully argue insanity under the M'Naghten rule, the individuals must satisfy both of these elements before a court of law. It is particularly difficult for individuals to successfully argue under the M'Naghten rule because there are very few situations where an individual is not aware that committing a murder is wrong.

How The M'Naghten Defense Is Used In Alabama

The process of pleading the insanity defense begins at an individual's arraignment hearing, during which one can plead not guilty by reason of insanity. When it comes to issues of insanity, each court of law in the state of Alabama begins with the assumption that an individual is insane. Individuals who are subsequently able to convince a court that the individual is insane will be sent to a mental institution rather than a prison.

Statistics demonstrate that the insanity defenses is used in less than one percent of all criminal cases. Given the difficulty of arguing the M'Naghten rule successfully, only individuals who had little to no control over their actions due to behavioral difficulties.

How An Experienced Birmingham Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help


If you are involved in a case in the state of Alabama involving the insanity defense, you require the services of a top Birmingham criminal defense attorney. Do not hesitate to contact Eversole Law LLC, where our attorneys have the skill and ability to help clients navigate the various issues surrounding the insanity defense.

We serve the following localities:

Birmingham, Jefferson County including Bessemer, Homewood, Hoover, Irondale, Leeds, Mountain Brook, Trussville, and Vestavia Hills, Shelby County (including Pelham, Alabaster, Chelsea, Calera), Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Huntsville, Calhoun County including Anniston, Etowah County including Boaz and Gadsden, Cullman County including Arab and Cullman, Madison County including Huntsville and Madison, Montgomery County including Montgomery, and all of Alabama.

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