The Insanity Defense in Florida

Insanity as a defense to a criminal charge in Florida can be raised, but like any defense, such as entrapment or self defense, one must admit to the crime and then raise the defense. South Florida criminal lawyers find Florida criminal juries very reluctant to accept insanity defenses. Insanity under Florida criminal law, means that due to a mental infirmity, disease or defect the accused did not know what he/she was doing or its consequences, or, although he/she knew what he/she was doing, but did not know it was wrong. If the defendant believed what he/she was doing was morally right, then he/she is not insane, if he/she was aware that it violated societal standards or knew it was against the law.

In Florida criminal courts (Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami) there is a presumption of sanity. That means a criminal defendant in Florida has the burden of proving the defense of insanity. The standard of proof is by clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is evidence that is precise, explicit, lacking in confusion, and of such weight that it produces a firm belief, without hesitation, about the matter or defense raised. Unrestrained passion or ungovernable temper is not insanity.

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