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Brett Marie
11-10-2011, 03:02 PM
I have a story where a man has been arrested for killing his wife. An otherwise normal person, he has just had a psychotic episode. He is fairly lucid, but remains quite delusional.

Would he be taken to a police station and questioned there? Would he be sent to a mental institution? Who would be questioning him? Would they keep trying to explain to him what he had just done? Any facts or ideas would be appreciated.

jclarkdawe
11-10-2011, 04:50 PM
I have a story where a man has been arrested for killing his wife. An otherwise normal person, he has just had a psychotic episode. He is fairly lucid, but remains quite delusional. I'm not quite sure what you mean here. But from the point of view of the police is the concern as to whether he is violent and in what way(s) can he be restrained. Second question is how coherent is he, whether it is delusion or not. In other words, a coherent story about alien abduction is not a problem. An incoherent story where you can't even make sense of the sentences is.

Would he be taken to a police station and questioned there? Absolutely. First off, at this point, no one knows whether he's faking or not. Second, although this may become inadmissible down the road for trial, you've got to establish a baseline. And you need to understand that delusional, in and off itself, is not a defense against murder. It depends upon whether the delusion would give him a defense for the action. So if he thinks his wife is a secret Russian spy, he's not allowed to kill her, although he is allowed to arrest her. But if he thinks she's going to kill him, he has a self-defense argument.

Would he be sent to a mental institution? He'd be sent to a secure psychiatric institution, which may be independent from a prison/jail or may be part of one. Depends upon how the state has set up their system. And at this point, he would be sent for an evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial, an entirely different standard from whether he can use insanity as a defense.

To give you an example, I had a client who assaulted a woman, thinking she was the governor. Clearly knew that it was wrong to attack a governor, but felt it needed to be done because she was aiding space aliens in controlling the world. There was minimal defense for a criminal insanity trial and I expected to lose that issue in front of a jury.

However, he thought the judge was a space alien and my function was to prepare him for transportation prior to dissection. In other words, he did not understand the criminal justice system and could not aid in his defense. Result was he was incompetent to stand trial.

Who would be questioning him? The lead investigator for the homicide, which would probably be homicide investigators.

Would they keep trying to explain to him what he had just done? Not directly. They want his story, not what they think happened. But they would keep asking him why he killed his wife, to compare his answers for consistency and coherency.

Any facts or ideas would be appreciated.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Chrissy
11-10-2011, 04:59 PM
Cool question. Just wanted to throw in my first thought - It would depend somewhat on the investigator - whether he is kind, careful, and fair-minded OR relentless, cruel, biased in his pursuit of justice. Who knows what the suspect could go through before he is finally taken to that psychiatric ward.

archetypewriting
11-11-2011, 07:31 AM
I have a story where a man has been arrested for killing his wife. An otherwise normal person, he has just had a psychotic episode. He is fairly lucid, but remains quite delusional.

Would he be taken to a police station and questioned there? Would he be sent to a mental institution? Who would be questioning him? Would they keep trying to explain to him what he had just done? Any facts or ideas would be appreciated.

I think you maybe need to clarify what you mean by "psychotic" and "delusional," (just because not everyone knows quite what those mean, and so I'm kind of checking in on what you want them to mean) as well as whether the psychotic break happened before or after the killing of the wife.

Clearly he is a danger to others if he just killed someone--is he a danger to himself as well?

It's also not clear if you mean for him to STAY in a psychotic state for an extended period of time. Some people have what are called "brief psychotic breaks," which means they are psychotic for only a brief period of time (often following a major stressor) -- more than a day, less than a month. I'm also wondering what triggered the psychosis, if it's a brief psychotic disorder, or if you want it to be part of a larger illness, like schizophrenia, a delusional disorder, or bipolar disorder.

If he's floridly psychotic, he's going to go into the care of psychiatric professionals rather than just to jail. What happens next is going to depend on how you answer some of the questions above. :)