SC JI Cr § 6-12 Insanity
South Carolina Requests to Charge – Criminal (2018)
PART VI DEFENSES
§ 6-12 Insanity
The defendant in this case has pled the defense of insanity. Insanity is a complete defense.
In every criminal case, it is presumed the defendant is sane. Insanity is an affirmative defense in a criminal prosecution. In order to make out the defense of insanity, the defendant must prove insanity by a preponderance of the evidence.
What is a preponderance of the evidence? By a preponderance of the evidence is meant a lesser burden of proof. In the law, when we say “a preponderance of the evidence,” we mean the evidence on that particular fact is more convincing on that party’s side than on the other side. Consider the illustration of the scales of justice. As you evaluate the burden of proof upon the defendant to prove insanity, if the defendant tips those scales ever so slightly in his favor as you weigh and evaluate the evidence on that issue, the defendant has met the burden of proof in that regard.
When a defendant offers evidence of insanity, the State no longer enjoys the presumption of sanity, but must present evidence to the jury from which you could find the defendant sane.
Section 17-24-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws provides:
(A) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution for a crime that, at the time of the commission of the act constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of mental disease or defect, lacked the capacity to distinguish moral or legal right from moral or legal wrong or to recognize the particular act charged as morally or legally wrong.
(B) The defendant has the burden of proving the defense of insanity by a preponderance of the evidence.
(C) Evidence of a mental disease or defect that is manifested only by repeated criminal or other antisocial conduct is not sufficient to establish the defense of insanity.
A defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity if, at the time of the commission of the act constituting the offense, as a result of mental disease or defect, he lacked the capacity to distinguish moral or legal right from moral or legal wrong or to recognize the particular act charged as morally or legally wrong. The primary focus of the insanity defense is on the act charged–it is the power of the defendant to distinguish right from wrong in the act itself–to recognize the act complained of is either morally or legally wrong. When this power exists in a defendant, he must answer for his acts.
The State must prove every element of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt.