Partial Mental Responsibility

The Old (pre-2004 Amendment) Manual Standard

courtmartialdefenselawyers10.57.36 2A mental condition not amounting to a general lack of mental responsibility under subsection RCM 916(k)(1) is not a defense, nor is evidence of such a mental condition admissible as to whether the accused entertained a state of mind necessary to be proven as an element of the offense. RCM 916(k)(2). The old standard tried to prohibit a partial mental responsibility defense. The CMA rejected the old RCM 916(k)(2) because it doubted the rule’s constitutionality and found that the legislative history of the federal model lacked any Congressional intent to preclude defendants from attacking mens rea with contrary evidence.

The Current (post-2004 Amendment) Manual Standard

A mental condition not amounting to a lack of mental responsibility (i.e., a finding of not guilty only by reason of lack of mental responsibility) is not an affirmative defense, but may be admissible to determine whether the accused entertained the state of mind necessary to prove an element of the offense. In other words, partial mental responsibility is not an affirmative defense, but it is a deficiency of the government proof of a necessary element (e.g., specific intent).

 Instruction on Partial Mental Responsibility

bestmilitarydefensedefenseattorneys9.59.53PMDA PAM 27-9, instruction 6-5. The affirmative defense of insanity and the defense of partial mental responsibility are separate defenses, but the panel members may consider the same evidence with respect to both defenses. With regard to partial mental responsibility, the burden never shifts from the government to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused entertained the mental state necessary for the charged offense.

However, not all psychiatric evidence is now admissible. The evidence still must be relevant and permitted by UCMJ art. 50a.

General intent crime

The psychiatric evidence must still rise to the level of a “severe mental disease or defect.” The insanity defense cannot be otherwise resurrected. UCMJ art. 50a.

Specific intent crime

The psychiatric evidence must be relevant to the mens rea element.