Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Diminished Capacity

  • Robert L. HeilbronnerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_966


Diminished capacity is often included as part of a “mens rea” defense where the defense argues for a lesser degree of culpability (e.g., manslaughter instead of first-degree murder) due to decreased intent. Although they both involve an assessment of a defendant’s mental state at the time of the commission of a crime, a diminished capacity defense is distinct from the insanity defense. In an insanity defense, the defense argues that the defendant lacks the mental capacity “as a result of mental disease or defect” to appreciate the criminality (e.g., wrongfulness) of the act and to conform his/her conduct to the requirements of the law. In a diminished capacity defense, the defense argues that the defendant had a decreased level of intent to commit the act as a result of several possible factors including drug or alcohol intoxication, medication use, and neurological conditions (Melton et al. 2007). The most extreme variant of the diminished capacity defense is the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. Denney, R. L. (2005). Criminal responsibility and other criminal forensic issues. In G. Larrabee (Ed.), Forensic neuropsychology: A scientific approach. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Goldstein, A. M., Morese, S. J., & Shapiro, D. L. (2003). Evaluation of criminal responsibility. In A. Goldstein (Ed.), Handbook of psychology (vol 11). Forensic psychology. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  3. Melton, G. B., Petrila, J., Poythress, N. G., & Slobogin, C. (2007). Psychological evaluations for the courts (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chicago Neuropsychology GroupChicagoUSA