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

Definition

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...

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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