Published on:

Court Reviews Indictment for Escape from Mental Heath Facility

When a mentally ill offender commits a heinous crime in New York, the judicial court has the ability to determine whether the person should be considered not responsible for his actions by reason of mental disease or defect. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said that in some cases, the offenders illness can make the determination of how to handle his conviction and sentencing much more difficult. The ethics that are involved in punishing mentally ill persons are complicated. Clearly, a person who is a threat to society if they are not controlled should not be allowed to terrorize innocent people. However, a person who does not understand that what they did was wrong, is also an innocent in the eyes of many people.

The courts must determine a balance that is ethically acceptable between the right of the innocent victim and the rights of the offender. When an offender is determined to be mentally ill, the court must determine if he is capable understanding the trial process and participate in his own defense. If he is not capable of assisting in his own defense, then other steps are necessary to ensure that the product of justice is attainable. Most states have now incorporated a policy that allows them to determine that a person is guilty while still being mentally ill. That is because many people have skirted the justice system in the past because they are mentally ill or suffering from some other disease or defect. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said citizens of these states have determined that allowing a person to not be punished for an offense simply because they are not responsible for their actions is not fair to the innocent victim of their acts. There is also a need for the judicial courts to protect the citizens of their states from future illegal actions that this person may likely perform.

In 1978, an offender was convicted of rape in the first degree. He was a violently mentally ill offender who was found to suffer from a mental disease or defect. The courts of New York, where his offense was committed determined that he was not able to be placed in the usual offender population because of his mental illness. However, they were also convinced that if he was released, he would recidivate. In order to prevent him from harming anyone else, they decided to commit him to the custody of the Commissioner of Mental Hygiene in a secure facility for treatment. He was indicted on his crimes on March of 1978. On review of his mental state, he was re-committed to the secure institution on September 3, 1981 and again on October 27, 1982.

In 1983, the Acting Director of the Bureau of Forensic Services determined that the offender was not mentally ill any longer, but that he had been cured. He asked the court to transfer the offender to a non-secure psychiatric treatment center. On February 22, 1984, the offender was transferred to the Bronx Psychiatric Center from the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said he was moved on March 8, 1984. On April 2, 1984, in the middle of the afternoon, the offender walked away from the Bronx Psychiatric Center. Upon the notification of the courts that the subject had departed, the Bronx County Prosecutor drew up an indictment charging him with escape from an institution.

The court appointed defense attorney for the man countered the indictment with a proposal that his client could not escape from an institution that was not secure. Indeed, he contends that the indictment for escape should be dismissed in its entirety. The Supreme Court evaluated the motion on the laws of New York and on the history of previous legal actions as they relate to the confinement and escape of mental detainees. There are several previous cases that relate to the sanctions that the courts have placed on these offenders. However, there is no question that there is a gap in the prosecution ability to punish them. Insanity acquittees punishment and rights are defined in Article 330 of the Criminal Procedure Law. The law does not address penal sanctions at all. It creates an outlet for providing the insanity acquittee to be civilly committed in a detention facility. The law does not define what the legislature considered to be a detention facility for the purposes of this statute. The question for the court was whether a person who had been civilly committed could be charged with escaping from custody. This question is especially important if the person was placed in a non-secure institution. In order to make that determination, the court was compelled to determine if the term detention facility as it related to the statutes on escape, included psychiatric centers.

In the case in question, the first institution where the man was housed could definitely be considered a detention facility. However, the non-secure institution was definitely not a detention facility. The court determined that the importance of maintaining the security of the citizens of New York should be clarified so that those who need confinement should not be transferred to non-secure facilities without a court review. he court also stated that that although they felt as though a gap existed with mentally ill detainees, they were not in a position to alter the laws. The role of the court is only to interpret the laws. A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said it is the job of the state legislature to alter any laws so that they accommodate the social atmosphere of the times that they are in.

The insanity acquittee is somewhere in the middle of civil law and criminal law. They have been convicted of a crime, but rather than sending them to a prison population where they could easily be mistreated because of their illness, they are confined to a secure mental institution. Therefore, they are dropped into a place somewhere between the two types of statutory law. In order to define their placement and their punishment for heinous crimes, the court must recommend to the legislature that there is a need for clarification in the law. Until then, the court is limited in the actions that they can take.

After reviewing all of the available information, the court made the determination that when the doctor determined that the detainee was no longer suffering from his mental disease, he should not have been transferred to the non-secure facility. Once in the non-secure facility, it was not appropriate to determine that he was confined any differently than those who were in that facility by choice. Since he was given the ability to move about freely with the other detainees, he was not instructed against leaving. He was therefore, unaware that he would be escaping from custody if he simply walked away. He turned himself in to the authorities within four days of walking away from the institution. The court ruled that he should not have been indicted for escape since in essence, he was not in a confinement situation that restricted him from leaving.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its rape lawyers there are convenient offices throughout New York State and Metropolitan area. Our felony Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Hiring a mentally ill confinement attorney can prevent you from losing precious time with your family.

Contact Information