Hollywood really enjoys playing up the insanity defense in courtroom dramas. In reality, this plea is a difficult one to pull off.
Cornell Law School explains that an insanity defense is actually a guilty plea. The person making this plea is saying that he or she did the crime. They do not object at all to the facts of the case and cannot prove they did not do the crime. However, the person is saying that he or she had a mental illness that prevented him or her from having culpability.
Many defenses used in court are justification defenses. They provide some reasoning why the person did the crime and try to legally justify his or her actions. An insanity defense is an excuse defense. It is where the person is saying that they did the crime but with good reason. Another example would be self-defense.
Presumption of sanity
The state always holds the presumption that any defendant is mentally sane and that he or she has always been mentally sane. Because of this presumption, a person who wishes to use the insanity defense in Florida must prove his or her mental infirmity.
The Florida Senate explains that the person must prove he or she had some type of mental defect, infirmity or disease that caused him or her to not be able to recognize his or her actions were damaging or wrong. The person needs to show that this mental issue made it so that he or she was unable to understand the consequences of his or her actions as well.