Mental Health and Criminal Law, Part Two.

In our last post, we looked at the insanity defense in Virginia.  For most of the legal history of our Commonwealth, the insanity defense was the only defense available for those suffering from mental health problems.  In 2021, the General Assembly allowed for evidence of another possible defense in some cases.

Va. Code § 19.2-271.6 allows for the introduction of evidence as to the defendant’s mental condition when relevant to show that the person did not have the intent required to commit the offense.  This overrules a longstanding rule that evidence of the defendant’s mental condition was not admissible unless they invoked the insanity defense.  This statute allows the introduction of this evidence if the person has an intellectual disability, developmental disability or mental health condition.

In a typical case, a forensic psychiatrist will evaluate the defendant to see if their mental illness or disability created a condition where they could not form the intent to commit the crime.  This will be very specific to the individual and the crime alleged to have been committed.

It is very important that a skilled criminal defense attorney evaluate your case to see if you qualify under this law.  If you or a loved one are facing a criminal charge and you believe this may apply, call the criminal defense attorney’s at Winslow, McCurry, & MacCormac at 804-423-1382.