Can a teenager plead guilty to murder and be sent to a mental institution instead of jail?

Hi! I'm currently writing a short story about a girl that is sixteen and pleads guilty to the murder of her sister by taking a plea deal saying she was under severe emotional stress due to trauma and she was sent to a psychiatric institution instead of jail. Is this realistic? Would it make sense? Any other things i should be aware of? Please help!


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I'm not sure that you can typically plea deal to insanity.

    What would happen is the prosecution would still lay the charge, the defense would plead not criminally responsible, which means they accept the offense occurred but that the defendant didn't have mens rea (guilty mind, i. e. they weren't mentally aware that what they were doing was wrong). The prosecution could fight that by having their own witnesses testify that the defendant was mentally aware.

    I imagine it might be possible in a case where there is some uncertainty about proving the facts that the prosecution could indicate behind closed doors to the defense that if the defense intends to plead 'not criminally responible' they won't fight that.

    "severe emotional stress due to trauma" doesn't sound like it would cut it though. You need to be not just making bad decisions, you need to literally be not understanding the decisions you make are wrong.

    A relatively recent case in Canada where they plea of not criminally responsible wasn't fought by the prosecution (that i'm aware of) was :
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Tim_McLean#Trial

    In that case, the killer's behavior around the time of the crime, the nature of the crime... was pretty consistent with someone who had lost touch with reality. I mean if he was sane, -why- did he do it. You'd have to argue it was a fetish or something and thought horrific he knew what he was doing and was doing it to please himself. But that sort of claim would be more likely if he'd taken reasonable steps to -get away with it-.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • That most likely wouldn't happen. Not only is 16 old enough to be charged as an adult but they wouldn't give her a "deal" to plead temporary insanity. Her lawyer (who's probably court appointed) would have to find a medical professional to say she was ill and then prove it to the court.

    And that just doesn't happen very often.

    My advice would be to try and find similar cases and see what happens.

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What Guys Said 13

  • That won't work if she's found to be competent to stand trial, she would still have to have been seen by a shrink and he would have to say she's still not able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, and the trauma was caused by the abusive sister perhaps.

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  • Depends on the stability of his mental status, if red flags arose alerting to them to wonder the mental stability of said suspect. Also if the evidence proves he was indeed the killer then they would charge him with either first degree murder or second degree murder or man slaughter depending how the victim died. The only time a court secides to send someone to a asylum for the criminally insane is of they are given cause to doubt the individual was mentally aware or stable enough to know what they were doing during the murder and once he failed examination by state or city criminal psychiatric examination.

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  • The teenager in question must first be charged as a retard.

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  • I don't know. I'd ask a lawyer. If I'm correct, your lawyer could plead not guilty by reason of mental disease/defect. But then a psychiatrist would have to perform diagnostics on you to confirm that you really deserve to be in a mental institution. It's not easy to prove that you deserve to be in a mental institution for murdering someone.

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  • Considering that 13 yo Lionel Tate was sentenced to life without parole, I wouldn't want to chance it.

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  • If the psychiatric experts testify that she's not accountable because of a mental illness.

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  • She must be deemed unfit to stand trial by a psychiatrist.

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  • More realistic if she were a schizophrenic, bi-polar or a drug addict suffering from psychosis a temporary lapse of reality

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  • mental institutions are usually just another wing of a prison.

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  • Not if she pleads guilty. Her defence council will need to either plea bargain, or develop a defence based on mental instability or temporary insanity based on evidence that convinces the jury.

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  • I believe that is called "pleading insanity".

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  • Yes, they do that

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What Girls Said 6

  • If you want to send her to a psychiatric ward, no less one for the criminally insane, you're putting her in for a world of pain.

    Those places are not somewhere you want to be. Shed be better off in prison.

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  • It is realistic however her lawyer has to plead to the judge temporary insanity. She cannot allow a sentence of guilty and then plead temporary insanity. She has to incorporate temporary insanity before the guilty verdict. Not that it can't be done after but it clogs things up if she has not if she doesn't bring up the play of temporary insanity prior to the verdict.

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  • A psychiatrist would need to establish that she was in fact legally insane at the time.

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  • she can only be sent to a psychiatric institution if she has been diagnosed with a mental disorder such as bipolar, depression, schizophrenia and anxiety.
    a psychiatric ward is about mental illnesses hence the term "psycho" in the name which is about mental processes. so if you change the stress to generalised anxiety then yes your story would make sense

    if you need anymore help on the topic just message me i am studying psychology at university

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  • It has happened sometimes, a person pleads guilty in order to have sentence reduced or being sent into a mental institution. That's the work of the lawyer, they have to convince the judge and jury to do so.

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  • Like everyone else said they would have to be declared mentally unstable first.

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