Week 2

Topics: Criminal law, Mental disorder, Crime Pages: 5 (1433 words) Published: August 31, 2013
Criminal Capacity
Donald Anderson, Staycee Gibson,
Mike Jackson, Kelly Randall
CJA/354
August 19, 2014
Lora Terrill

When an individual commits a crime, he or she will automatically begin justifying his or her reasons. The justification or excuse could range from self-defense to a mental illness. In this instance the question remains, is there any reason for the justification or an excuse for one’s criminal actions (K. Randall, Personal Communication, August 16, 2013). Every individual could carry out a criminal act but not the ability in a mental sense to understand the severity of what he or she has done (K. Randall, Personal Communication, August 16, 2013). The purpose of this paper is to answer the questions of what justification and excuses are and to provide examples of them. The paper discusses how justification and excuse differ from one another as well as describing the similarities between the two. Additionally, this paper will define what criminal capacity is and its impact the defense process and discuss the data studied with regard to the conviction of those suffering with a mental illness and the link with the data involving criminal capacity and convictions.

Justification
According to Schmalleger (2010), “ the legal definition of justification is when a defendant from a legal standpoint admits that he or she committed the criminal act but contends it was unavoidable in order to prevent some greater malice” (pg. 115). When one has committed an act of violence, he or she naturally wants to justify the reasons. For many who commit a criminal act the best defense is justification. According to the author, some examples of justification can be, “self-defense, necessity, and defense of others (Schmalleger, 2010, pg. 116). Self-defense is when “a person has fundamental right to protect his or her self and that to rationally safeguard oneself from an illegal assault is a natural response when faced with a threatening situation” (Schmalleger, 2010, pg. 119). Necessity is a claim made by the defense, in which, “the defendant believed it was necessary to behave illegally to prohibit or deter a greater damage or injury” (Schmalleger, 2010, pg. 116). The defense of others occurs when one person defends another who appears to be in harm’s way (Schmalleger, 2010, pg. 126). However, as the author states, “defense of others is sometimes called “defense of a third person,” is circumscribed in some jurisdictions by the alter ego rule” (Schmalleger, 2010, pg. 126). The defense of others can be tricky because it does not mean one can intervene in an altercation of one’s friend when that friend started the altercation itself. The alter ego rule is accepted in some jurisdictions but not in others. The alter ego rule, as stated by Schmalleger (2010), is that “some jurisdictions will hold that an individual can solely protect a third party under certain conditions and solely to the degree in which the third party could perform for his or her own benefit” (pg. 126). For example, the state of Texas, based on the Model Penal Code ignores acknowledgement this rule by allowing an individual to defend another person if, “he or she has a rational belief that his or her involvement is needed right a way to defend the third party” (Schmalleger, 2010, pg. 126).

Criminal Capacity
Criminal capacity is defined as knowing the difference between right and wrong with regard to committing a criminal act. Basically it relates to the ability and the “soundness of one’s mind” with his or her intelligence level of understanding and the perception of his or her actions (The Free Dictionary by Farflex, 2013). The impact on the defense with criminal capacity is that if an individual is under the criminal culpability age or the individual is found to have any form...

References: Schmalleger, F. (2010). Criminal law today: An introduction with capstone cases (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Legal Dictionary. (2013). Definition of Justification. Retrieved from: http:// www.legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com
The Free Dictionary by Farflex. (2013). Capacity. Retrieved from http://legadictionary.thefreedictionary.com/capacity
James, Doris J. & Glaze, Lauren E. (2006) United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates. Retrieved from: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mhppji.pdf
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