Burden of Proof

The question of who has the burden of proof with an insanity defense has been a source of controversy. Before the Hinckley verdict, a majority of states had the burden of proof rest with the state; that is, the prosecutor had to prove that the defendant was not insane. After the Hinckley verdict, the vast majority of states required the defense to prove that the defendant was indeed insane. In states where the burden is on the defense to prove insanity, the defense is required to show either by clear and convincing evidence or by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is insane. In states where the burden is still on prosecutors to prove sanity, they are required to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.


Inside Burden of Proof