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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Court-Ordered forensic psychiatric evaluations for offenders with schizophrenia with homicide charges in Taiwan


1 Department of Psychiatry, Pingtong Christian Hospital, Pingtong County; Department of Psychiatry, Buddhist Medical Foundation Taipei Tzu-Chi Hospital, New Taipei City; International Intercollegiate Ph.D. Program, National Tsing Hua University, Hsin-Chu County; Department of Psychiatry, Tri-Service General Hospital, School of Medicine, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan
2 School of Public Health, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan
3 Department of Psychiatry, Tri-Service General Hospital, School of Medicine, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan
4 Department of Psychiatry, Tri-Service General Hospital, School of Medicine, National Defense Medical Center; Student Counseling Center, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan

Correspondence Address:
Nian-Sheng Tzeng,
Department of Psychiatry, National Defense Medical Center, School of Medicine, Tri-Service General Hospital, #325, Sec 2, Cheng Gung Road, Nei-Hu District, Taipei
Taiwan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmedsci.jmedsci_98_21

Background: Homicidal offenders with schizophrenia who went through psychiatric evaluations are a small but significant group during a criminal appeal. Aim: Our aims are to explore whether the types of crime, such as homicide or not, would be related to the verdicts for the alleged offenders with schizophrenia in Taiwan. Our hypothesis was that homicide cases, rather than other alleged offenses, would be more likely to be regarded as no responsibility (legal insanity) or diminished responsibility for those defendants in the forensic psychiatric evaluation opinions or the court verdicts. Methods: A retrospective comparison of the homicide offenders with the nonhomicide offenders with schizophrenia, registered between December 2000 and November 2009, was conducted in the web-based, national, open-access court verdict databank. Results: There were 33 (3.4%) in 9691 criminal homicide offenders that had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. There were 33 in the homicide group and 22 in the nonhomicide group. Among these defendants in the homicide group, 3 (9.1%) were regarded as legal insanity, and 21 (63.6%) were regarded as diminished responsibility in comparison to the zero (0%) as legal insanity and nine (40.9%) as diminished responsibility in the nonhomicide group (P = 0.029). In addition, the group with multiple evaluations tended to receive forensic psychiatric opinions as legal insanity (N = 3; 33.3%), and the group with single evaluation tended to receive forensic psychiatric opinions as diminished responsibility (N = 16; 66.67%) (P = 0.017). The group with multiple evaluations tended to be ruled as legal insanity in the court (P = 0.001). Conclusion: Homicide cases would be more likely to be regarded as legal insanity or diminished responsibility for the defendants with schizophrenia in the forensic psychiatric evaluation opinions or the court verdicts.


 

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