WPIC 18.20 Diminished Capacity—Defense
11 WAPRAC WPIC 18.20Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Criminal
11 Wash. Prac., Pattern Jury Instr. Crim. WPIC 18.20 (5th Ed)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Criminal
December 2021 Update
Part IV. Defenses
WPIC CHAPTER 18. Miscellaneous Defenses
WPIC 18.20 Diminished Capacity—Defense
Evidence of mental illness or disorder may be taken into consideration in determining whether the defendant had the [capacity] [ability] to form (fill in requisite mental state).
NOTE ON USE
Use this instruction when diminished capacity is claimed. Use bracketed material as applicable. Fill in the requisite mental state in the space provided. If there is more than one crime charged or an offense has multiple mens rea, it may be necessary to include more than one mental state.
Modification of instruction. This instruction has been modified for this edition to reflect newer case law which uses the term “ability” rather than “capacity.” No substantive change is intended.
In general. Diminished capacity may be raised as a defense when either specific intent or knowledge is an element of the crime charged. If specific intent or knowledge is an element, evidence of diminished capacity can then be considered in determining whether the defendant had the capacity to form the requisite mental state. State v. Thomas, 123 Wn.App. 771, 779, 98 P.3d 1258 (2004).
The pattern instruction may be submitted to the jury only if the defendant satisfies the following three requirements: (1) the crime charged must include a particular mental state as an element; (2) the defendant must present evidence of a mental disorder; and (3) expert testimony must logically and reasonably connect the defendant's alleged mental condition with the asserted inability to form the mental state required for the crime charged. State v. Atsbeha, 142 Wn.2d 904, 914, 921, 16 P.3d 626 (2001); State v. Eakins, 127 Wn.2d 490, 502, 902 P.2d 1236 (1995); State v. Griffin, 100 Wn.2d 417, 418–19, 670 P.2d 265 (1983); State v. Guilliot, 106 Wn.App. 355, 363, 22 P.3d 1266 (2001). If evidence on any element is lacking, the instruction should not be given. State v. Ager, 128 Wn.2d 85, 95, 904 P.2d 715 (1995).
In State v. Griffin, 100 Wn.2d 417, 670 P.2d 265 (1983), the court held that a generalized instruction on criminal intent may not be sufficient to apprise the jury of a mental disorder that may diminish the defendant's capacity to commit a crime. The court stated that the defendant is entitled to a more specific instruction on diminished capacity whenever there is substantial evidence of such a condition and such evidence logically and reasonably connects the defendant's alleged mental condition with the inability to possess the required level of culpability to commit the crime charged. But see State v. Hansen, 46 Wn.App. 292, 730 P.2d 706, modified, 737 P.2d 670 (1986) (under the facts of the case the trial court did not err in refusing the defendant's requested instruction on diminished capacity); State v. Cienfuegos, 144 Wn.2d 222, 229–30, 25 P.3d 1011 (2001) (defense attorney's failure to request a diminished capacity instruction when the evidence supports one is not per se reversible error as the instructions on knowledge and intent will still allow the defendant to argue his theory of the case).
Burden of proof. The “to convict” instruction will clearly provide that the State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant acted with the requisite mental state. This is appropriate because diminished capacity negates an element of the crime. State v. Nuss, 52 Wn.App. 735, 739, 763 P.2d 1249 (1988). Nuss was cited with approval in State v. W.R., Jr., 181 Wn.2d 757, 336 P.3d 1134 (2014).
Comparison with insanity. The opinion in State v. Gough, 53 Wn.App. 619, 768 P.2d 1028 (1989), discusses the differences between the defense of diminished capacity and the defense of insanity and holds that the defense of diminished capacity is not a “lesser included defense” encompassed within the defense of insanity.
Post-traumatic stress disorder. If other requirements are met, evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder impairing a defendant's ability to premeditate may support a diminished capacity instruction. State v. Janes, 64 Wn.App. 134, 822 P.2d 1238 (1992), remanded on other grounds, 121 Wn.2d 220, 850 P.2d 495 (1993).
Comparison with intoxication. For a discussion of the relationship between diminished capacity and voluntary intoxication instructions, see the Comment to WPIC 18.10 (Voluntary Intoxication).
For a general discussion of the burden of proof on defenses, see WPIC 14.00 (Defenses—Introduction).
[Current as of May 2019.]
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