Attorney Jacqueline Goodman is defending Sonia Hermosillo who is accused of allegedly pushing her infant son off of a parking structure to his death. Attorney Goodman will be pursuing an insanity defense – a notoriously complex legal strategy.
What Is an Insanity Defense?
In some criminal cases, the person accused of a crime can plead insanity, which means they admit to the act but sustain that they were not of sound mind at the time. To prevent people from abusing the insanity defense, the justice system requires proof beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The center of any insanity defense is competence. The defense attorney must be able to prove that the defendant was legally incompetent. This means that the defendant cannot communicate or understand the case against them and is incapable of rational discussion with their attorney. If someone is found legally incompetent, the insanity defense is null. The accused must be coherent and capable of standing trial.
Types of Insanity
Once the defendant is clear to stand trial, the court may attempt to measure the level of insanity. It’s important to note that while there are rules for how insanity pleas are handled, there are many nuances and different definitions that make pursuing a plea challenging.
One of the most common definitions of insanity is known as the M’Naghten Rule, which defines insanity as the inability to distinguish right from wrong. In other words, the defendant is mentally and emotionally unable to recognize when behavior or actions cross the line from normalcy and legality to violence and criminality.
The irresistible impulse is another way to define insanity that applies to someone who understands why their actions are wrong but is unable to resist due to extreme mental illness. This definition applies more to cases involving serial killers or compulsive criminals.
With the support and guidance of Attorney Goodman, Hermosillo has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. As mentioned above, this is a very complex strategy that isn’t for the faint of heart.
According to the investigation, Hermosillo has struggled with mental illness for years, especially after the birth of her son. It’s not uncommon for mothers to experience postpartum depression, but in Hermosillo’s case, the birth of her son increased her already tenuous hold on her mental health.
Family members tried to keep Sonia from being alone with the baby as her mental health rapidly deteriorated. In fact, shortly after giving birth, Hermosillo was placed in a treatment facility on a mental-health hold. By her own admission, Sonia said that she spoke to loved ones about her worries that her children weren’t safe with her.
During opening statements, Attorney Goodman told the jury that Hermosillo was suffering from a psychotic break that was the culmination of weeks of not eating or sleeping, falling into a catatonic state, and extended delusions.
Attorney Goodman’s Approach
It’s is clear that Hermosillo was going through extreme psychosis at the time of the murder. The investigation and testimonies point to the reality that Sonia suffered from intense mental illness and was likely not aware of the impact of her actions.
There is a solid basis for an insanity defense, and Attorney Jacqueline Goodman is committed to this strategy. Utilizing this defense is rare, and only attorneys with extensive experience should attempt to bring an insanity plea case before the court.
Hermosillo faces two possible trials: one to determine whether she is guilty and the other to determine whether she was sane at the time of the crime. Attorney Goodman is not only committed to this case, but she is paving the way for future cases like this one.
There have been few successful insanity defense cases in American history, making every case a landmark opportunity to further expand the law. Hermosillo’s case is historic and significant because of her insanity plea and because it sheds light on mental illness.
Criminal cases are complex, and the stakes are astronomically high. While Hermosillo’s future hangs in the balance, Attorney Goodman will continue to fight on behalf of her client and offer support.
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