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Decades after alleged crime, New Jersey man faces felony charges

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