Diminished Responsibility

Closely related to the defense of insanity is the defense of diminished responsibility.  Under this defense, the defendant is unable to form the necessary criminal intent to commit a crime due to a limited capacity to think.  This defense differs from insanity because it does not involve an “illness” which distorts the thinking process.  In other words, the person may not meet the legal definition of insane but may not be able to for the specific intent to commit a crime.  This defense is only available to crimes which require the State to show the accused acted with the “specific intent” to commit the crime and is not available to general intent crimes.  Thus, this defense would not be available to someone accused of drunk driving but would be available to someone accused of murder.

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