South Carolina Requests to Charge – Criminal (2018)
PART VI DEFENSES
§ 6-14 Guilty but Mentally Ill
The defendant in this case has raised the issue for your consideration of a verdict of guilty but mentally ill.
Section 17-24-20(A) of the South Carolina Code of Laws provides:
A defendant is guilty but mentally ill if, at the time of the commission of the act constituting the offense, he had the capacity to distinguish right from wrong or to recognize his act as being wrong as defined in Section 17-24-10(A), but because of mental disease or defect he lacked sufficient capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.
Section 17-24-10(A) states: “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.”
To return a verdict of “guilty but mentally ill,” the burden of proof is upon the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury that the defendant committed the crime. The burden of proof is upon the defendant to prove by a preponderance of evidence that when he committed the crime he was mentally ill as defined in subsection (A). S.C. Code Ann. § 17-24-20(B).
In order for the defendant to prove he was mentally ill, the defendant must prove the definition as outlined in subsection (A). The burden of proof upon the defendant is a lesser burden than the burden of proof upon the State. The burden of proof upon the State is to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant has the burden of proving a verdict of guilty but mentally ill, but it is by the 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 mentally ill, 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.