Volume 36, Issue 3 (May 1991)
Alleged Brain Damage, Diminished Capacity, Mens Rea, and Misuse of Medical Concepts
As focus on the insanity defense diminishes, defendants may place emphasis on a lack of knowing or purposeful behavior in order to negate a criminal charge. This use of a mens rea defense in accord with Model Penal Code principles is exemplified by the current New Jersey statute. Such a defense may result in a lesser charge or a finding of not guilty. In addition to reviewing applicable law, this report presents a sex offense case in which remote brain damage was invoked as a purported basis for incapacity to formulate the required intent; the study also raises the issue of the inappropriate or questionable use of medical principles, a practice that diminishes professional credibility in the courts and in the community.