Americans are afforded many rights and with those rights they must also
embrace many important responsibilities. Among them is the expectation
that they will follow enacted laws. A difficult and sometimes upsetting
circumstance can occur when a person has the ability to exercise his rights
but is unable to personally account for all of his responsibilities.
While in some cases a person willingly chooses to disregard the law in
others he may be incapable of comprehending their existence and rationale.
Individuals who suffer from mental illnesses or defects may fall into
this category. A well-known case throughout New York and New Jersey may
hinge on this issue.
A mentally ill man who confessed to the murder of Etan Patz is facing a
felony murder charge for the youth's death and has a court date scheduled
for early in 2015. The
felonies that the man will face could result in him spending the rest of his life
in prison. His lawyers, however, may present evidence that the man is
mentally ill and therefore his confession is not trustworthy.
Individuals who suffer from mental illnesses often suffer cruel treatment
by those who do not understand their conditions. The background of this
man may be examined to determine if he confessed under motives not indicative
of his alleged crimes.
The incapacity to intend the consequences of a crime can sometimes provide
a defendant with a defense to the charges brought against him. As this
man's trial date nears his counsel will begin to prepare arguments
that present their client's truthful state of mind. If it is found
that he is not able to understand the results of his actions he may encounter
a favorable judgment from the court and avoid the serious penalties associated
with his felony charges.
Source: The Star-Legder, "Trial date set for N.J. man charged with murdering Etan Patz," Alex Napoliello, May 8, 2014