Explain the difference between competency to stand trial and legal insanity.

Spread the love

One of the differences between them is the timeframe considered.  Determining an individual’s competency to stand trial is determined by their mental state during legal proceedings and trial.  Whether one can be found not guilty by insanity, get determined to examine a person’s mental wellbeing at the time of committing the crime.  Hence, competency gets concerned with today while insanity gets concerned with a distinct point of the past.

The standard is the second difference.  Competency is always determined by whether the accused can comprehend the nature and outcomes of the criminal proceedings laid against him and whether he can help in his defense.   Insanity defense differs immensely from state to state.  Federal jurisdictions use the M’Naghten test in determining if an individual is legally insane.  The test always asks whether the defendant, from a reason defect, either didn’t know and the nature, as well as the quality of his actions s or he, did not understand the wrongness of his acts.

The other difference is procedural.  Competency gets determined by a judge, and must get considered before the taking place of a trial.  If ruled incompetent, the defendant gets treated in a mental facility and periodically gets evaluated to determine competence gaining.  On the other hand, Insanity gets determined by a jury.  It is a full defense to the charged crime.  This idea is that if an individual was insane at crime committing, he is excused from criminal responsibility and not guilty plea must be allowed.  However, getting found not guilty by insanity reason does not translate to going free.  Usually, an individual found legally insane can end up being locked up in a mental facility until health officers determine his safety to go back to the society.


Bardwell, M. C., & Arrigo, B. A. (2002): Criminal competency on trial: The case of Colin Ferguson. Durham, N.C: Carolina Academic Press.

© 2021: Edubirdie.website, All Rights Reserved | Innovation Theme by: D5 Creation | Powered by: WordPress
error: Content is protected !!
Whatsapp Us