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Depressed but not legally mentally impaired

Wondemaghen, Meron



This article examines the mental impairment (insanity) defense in the Australian state of Victoria and argues that the defense is successful only when offenders suffer from psychotic mental illnesses. This raises the question about how non-psychotic offenders are dealt with by the courts when they claim 'mental impairment' for serious acts of violence such as homicide, particularly when a relatively large number of perpetrators involved in homicide suffer from non-psychotic illnesses like depression. The analysis shows that depressive illnesses do not reach the threshold for mental impairment (legal insanity) such that they mitigate violent criminal behavior, although they can, arguably, diminish culpability. This article draws upon existing literature, qualitative analysis of two court cases and semi-structured interviews with four legal representatives to make its conclusions. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Wondemaghen, M. (2014). Depressed but not legally mentally impaired. International journal of law and psychiatry, 37(2), 160-167.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 20, 2013
Publication Date Mar 1, 2014
Deposit Date Aug 19, 2022
Journal International Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Print ISSN 0160-2527
Electronic ISSN 1873-6386
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 2
Pages 160-167
Public URL