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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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Insanity Defense Overview


The insanity defense in criminal cases is put in place to help a defendant who is not truly aware or responsible for their actions. Their mental incapacity makes them incapable of knowing how serious their crime was. Proving insanity as a defense can be difficult, but not impossible.

Insanity Defense in New Jersey

When a defendant pleads insanity in the state of New Jersey, it is done in the light of confessing that they did do a crime but also maintains that their mental illness drove them to their actions. The argument is that their insanity clouds their better judgment and makes it impossible for them to determine right from wrong. Pleading insanity goes beyond stating that one is insane; however, there are tests available to prove the defendant is, in fact, insane.

Proving Insanity

The primary test for proving insanity in cases like these is the M’Naghten Rule. This test has guidelines in place to outline whether or not the defendant can be legally defined as insane. The test determines:

·       Whether or not the defendant is mentally capable of understanding their actions

·       If they do understand their actions, do they know what they did was legally or morally wrong?

The M’Naghten Rule is often conducted by psychiatrists, both on the prosecution’s side and the defense’s side. In the case that an insanity plea is successful, the defendant is often committed to a mental health institution in lieu of jail time. While the amount of time spent there could be longer than jail time, results are not always typical.

Being committed, rather than jailed, also gives the defendant the advantage of not being a danger to others in society and may be released from the facility over time with little or no supervision.

Time is of the essence when pleading insanity. For an insanity plea to stand a chance, you need an experienced, aggressive lawyer who can fight for your claim. John W. Tumelty is a former prosecutor who knows how the other side thinks and prepares to fight insanity pleas. He will put his experience to work for you as he fights your charges tirelessly.

Contact John W. Tumelty today by calling 609.385.4010 for your consultation in his offices in Atlantic City, Somer’s Point and Marmora. Do not delay in contacting a lawyer who will leave no stone unturned as he fights for your freedom when you are charged with a serious crime. Schedule your consultation today.

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