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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 1981        FILED ON: 1/20/2011

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1295


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Kimberly N. Ferguson


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An act relative to the insanity defense.






Kimberly N. Ferguson

1st Worcester

Bradley H. Jones, Jr.

20th Middlesex

Matthew A. Beaton

11th Worcester

Kevin J. Kuros

8th Worcester

Richard Bastien

2nd Worcester

Elizabeth A. Poirier

14th Bristol

Ryan C. Fattman

18th Worcester

George T. Ross

2nd Bristol

Randy Hunt

5th Barnstable

Shaunna O'Connell

3rd Bristol

Steven L. Levy

4th Middlesex

Todd M. Smola

1st Hampden

Jennifer L. Flanagan


George N. Peterson, Jr.

9th Worcester

Donald F. Humason, Jr.

4th Hampden

Paul K. Frost

7th Worcester

Stephen L. DiNatale

3rd Worcester

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 1981        FILED ON: 1/20/2011

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 1295

By Mrs. Ferguson of Holden, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 1295) of Kimberly N. Ferguson and others relative to the use of insanity as criminal defense.  The Judiciary.


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



In the Year Two Thousand Eleven



An act relative to the insanity defense.


              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

              Chapter 265 of the Massachusetts General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition is hereby amended by adding the following section:-


              Section 2A. Insanity test; burden of proof; guilty except insane verdict


              A. Notwithstanding any other general or special law to the contrary, any defendant charged with  murder as defined by Section 1 of Chapter 265 of the General laws, may be found “guilty except insane” if at the time of the commission of the criminal act the person was afflicted with a mental disease or defect of such severity that the person did not know the criminal act was wrong. A mental disease or defect constituting legal insanity is an affirmative defense. Mental disease or defect does not include disorders that result from acute voluntary intoxication or withdrawal from alcohol or drugs, character defects, psychosexual disorders or impulse control disorders. Conditions that do not constitute legal insanity include but are not limited to momentary, temporary conditions arising from the pressure of the circumstances, moral decadence, depravity or passion growing out of anger, jealousy, revenge, hatred or other motives in a person who does not suffer from a mental disease or defect or an abnormality that is manifested only by criminal conduct.


              B. In a case involving the charge of murder as defined by Section 1 of Chapter 265 of the General Laws, if a plea of insanity is made and the court determines that a reasonable basis exists to support the plea, the court may commit the defendant to Bridgewater State Hospital or another secure mental health facility under the department of health services for up to thirty days for mental health evaluation and treatment. Experts at the mental health facility who are licensed to treat such patients, who are familiar with this state's insanity statutes, who are specialists in mental diseases and defects and who are knowledgeable concerning insanity shall observe and evaluate the defendant. The expert or experts who examine the defendant shall submit a written report of the evaluation to the court, the defendant's attorney and the prosecutor.



              C . If the finder of fact finds the defendant “ guilty , except insane ” of the crime of murder as defined in Section 1 of Chapter 265 of the General Laws, the defendant shall be committed to Bridgewater State Hospital, or another maximum security mental health treatment facility . A defendant who is found to be “ guilty , except insane ” of the crime of murder as defined in Section 1 of Chapter 265 s hall be committed to Bridgewater State Hospital for no less than ten years.  After the initial ten year commitment, the individual may be committed for additional one year periods under the provisions of Section 7 and Section 8 of Chapter 123 of the General Laws.


              If Bridgewater State Hospital or other treating facility designated by the Commissioner releases an offender found guilty except insane of murder as defined by Section 1 of Chapter 265, the individual will be placed under the supervision of the Commissioner of Probation for a period of not less than five years after the date of release. The treating facility shall transmit to the Commissioner of Probation and to the Parole Board a report on the condition of the offender which contains the clinical facts; the diagnosis; the course of treatment, and prognosis for the remission of symptoms; the potential for the recidivism, and for danger to the offender's own person or the public; and recommendations for future treatment. The Commissioner will order that intensive treatment is a condition of probation and the defendant must report to the probation department not less than three times per week.  If the individual does not comply with conditions of probation, the Commissioner may petition the court of jurisdiction to hold a hearing for re-commitment to Bridgewater State Hospital.


              D. A “guilty except insane” verdict is a criminal conviction and shall appear on the Criminal Offender Record Information System. 


              E. In cases involving murder as defined by Section 1 of Chapter 265 of the General Laws, “not guilty by reason of insanity” will no longer be an available disposition. 

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