New Definition of Insanity for the Developmentally Disabled?

At the September 25, 2013, meeting of the Indiana Commission on Autism, there was discussion about the definition of insanity and how it applies to developmentally disabled persons in the criminal justice system, including individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, who may not have had the intent to commit a crime.

According to the meeting notes, Suzanne O’Malley, Assistant Executive Director, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, noted “that if the legislature decides to create a new category through legislation, then prosecuting attorneys may have additional options to place developmentally disabled individuals somewhere other than in the criminal justice system when an incident occurs.”

In the Indiana criminal code, the procedures for the affirmative defense of insanity are laid out at IC 35-36-2.  If the defendant is found insane, the prosecuting attorney would then file a petition for commitment to the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, pursuant to IC 35-36-2-4 and IC 12-26-6 or IC 12-26-27.

For juveniles, pursuant to IC 31-37-18-3, if it appears that a child has mental illness, the court may refer the matter to the court having probate jurisdiction for civil commitment proceedings under IC 12-26 or initiate a civil commitment proceedings under IC 12-26.

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