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Can an insanity plea spare you from conviction?

Every year in South Carolina, innumerable people go through the criminal justice system. Some have been accused of misdemeanors while others face more serious charges. Many are even charged with federal offenses, which can carry particularly hefty penalties. Being convicted of a crime of this nature can severely impact your future, so the first thing you will need to do is begin to plan your defense.

There are many lines of defense you can choose, from simply presenting an alibi and declaring yourself not guilty, to attempting to offer an explanation for your actions. There are cases where your decision may be accepted as reasonable as a result of your circumstances. This could include acting in self-defense, entrapment or being in an unfit mental state during the time of the crime.

In regard to entering an insanity plea for federal charges, this article on criminal defense explains how at one time in history, the onus was on the prosecution to prove that a defendant was, in fact, sane. However, this changed with what is known as Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984. Under this act, if a defendant enters an insanity plea when answering federal charges, the burden of proof lies with the defense.

Choosing the right defense is critical in any criminal case, yet it can be a difficult decision to make without extensive knowledge of the legal process. Fortunately, you may be able to benefit from the advice of an attorney. He or she can explain the charges you face and their potential consequences as well as which defense may work best for you. With this guidance, you can present your side of the story to the court, and work toward a fair and favorable resolution to your trial.