How does pleading not guilty by mental illness or defect work?

Q: If my boyfriend was having a schizophrenic episode and did cocaine because he currently thought he was the president and was around a really bad influence. We were able to get him help but he was on probation and missed his scheduled group meeting They urine sampled him now he isn’t sure if he did cocaine or not but he does take Adderall which in the urine test would come up the same as cocaine. I’m having it analyzed to see if its cocaine or Adderall now if it is cocaine. He didn’t really understand what he was doing. Is pleading not guilty by reasons of mental disease or defect a possibility?  (South Park, PA)

A: If your boyfriend had a big tumor on his neck, would you try to diagnose it yourself and perhaps look up information on WebMD and then operate on him in your kitchen? If your friend has such serious mental health issues and is being prosecuted, he needs way more help than you can offer. He needs an experienced criminal defense attorney and he needs to be treating with a mental health professional. PA defines terms such as mental illness and guilty but mentally ill in Rule 314. PA follows the McNaughton Rule which basically means that your friend must be laboring under such delusion that he doesn’t understand what he is doing or the results of his actions. An insanity defense is generally a very difficult standard to reach or prove from the defense. However, his mental illness at a minimum may be mitigating factors to use in attempting to circumvent prosecution or obtain a diversionary program. Again, get him to a lawyer and if he cannot afford one, sign up for the Public Defender.


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