PTSD as a Criminal Defense: A Review of Case Law

Originally published in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, this research study reviews case law involving the use of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a defense in criminal cases. From these reviews, researchers have been able to draw numerous conclusions:

  1. Some appellate courts have determined that expert testimony on PTSD can meet both the Daubert and Frye standards for admissibility.
  2. Appellate courts have found PTSD defenses to be viable and compelling if an expert witness finds that there is a clear and direct connection between the defendant’s PTSD and the criminal act.
  3. PTSD dissociation has been successfully presented as arguments for self-defense, diminished capacity, and others mens rea defenses.
  4. Authors have made recommendations for the forensic evaluation of PTSD, although such methods have not been research based.

Read more on The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

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