POLICE Magazine

SEP 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1022864

Contents of this Issue


Page 70 of 136

68 POLICE SEPTEMBER 2018 often addressed in great detail. An essential element to the outcome of a mental state defense is the information gathered by those persons charged with in- terviewing and/or interrogating the suspect. e goals of inter- view and interrogation, while different, share some overlapping themes. e primary purpose is to elicit specific and accurate information about the individual, particularly with respect to his or her thinking and/or motivation and behavior at the time of the offense. e role of law enforcement in securing the suspect's narrative about their alleged role in the offense cannot be over- emphasized. To this end, critical information should be obtained by law enforcement long before a defendant comes into contact with a psychiatric or psychological evaluator. Whether an inves- tigator is trying to extract a confession directly from the suspect or is gathering information from collateral sources, every effort should be made to obtain as much information as possible about a suspect's state of mind proximal to the time of the offense. e authors have all worked in and/or consulted to a homicide unit and have developed a practical tool to aid investigators in gathering information about a suspect's mental state at the time of an offense. ere is no substitute for a thorough and objective interroga- tion that gets to the truth. To this end, we believe that our instru- ment, the Pitt, Nelson, Chapman, Lamoureux Interview Sched- ule (PNCLIS), will provide law enforcement personnel with a useful strategy to memorialize their observations regarding a defendant's mental state at the time of the offense. Using the mnemonic "INSANITY," PNCLIS (pronounced "Pin- clis") incorporates eight essential elements to assist law enforce- ment with collecting and documenting information about a sus- pect's thought processes at and around the time of an offense. 1 INTENT. Querying a suspect about his or her intent at the time he or she committed the offense is critical. By inquiring about in- tent, invaluable information is obtained about a suspect's mental state at the time of the offense. Whether the suspect had the req- uisite mens rea (guilt) when he or she committed the offense will help ascertain if a mental state defense will be a viable option at the time of trial. 2 KNOWING. A suspect's ability or inability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her conduct at the time of the offense is another key component of a mental state defense. As such, this line of questioning is designed to explore what the suspect knew when he or she committed the offense and, more specifically, whether the suspect knew that his or her actions were wrong when they committed the offense. 3 PSYCHIATRIC HISTORY. Asking suspects about whether they have a psychiatric history and to what extent (if any) they received psychiatric treatment are also very helpful lines of question- ing. Additional areas of inquiry include learning whether the suspect has ever been psychiatrically hospitalized voluntarily or involuntarily, given a psychiatric diagnosis, and/or treated with psy- chotropic medications. 4 ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE USE HISTORY. Information about a suspect's past and recent substance use, especially during the days, hours, and minutes leading up to the commission of the offense, is of paramount importance to determining the viabil- ity of a potential mental state defense. In virtually every jurisdiction in the United States that has an insanity statute, a "mental disease or defect" does not include conditions that result from acute voluntary intoxica- tion or withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. Hence, a detailed in- quiry regarding the suspect's recent and past substance use his- tory is an essential piece of information to secure. 5 NOISES. Many persons with a serious mental illness suffer from perceptual disturbances such as hearing voices or noises. Such claims are also often made by persons attempting to feign men- tal illness. Asking suspects early on about whether they are expe- riencing, or have experienced, any perceptual disturbances will be of tremendous benefit toward a later mental state evaluation. Use open-ended questions such as: •"Do you ever hear things that other people don't hear?" •"Do you ever see things that other people don't see?" •"Have you ever experienced any unusual perceptions?" • "Did you experience any unusual perceptions prior, during, or following the offense?" e answers to these questions will help ascertain if the sus- pect has a legitimate history of suffering from hallucinations. When confronted with a suspect who is endorsing a history of suffering from hallucinations, it is important that the investiga- tor ask follow-up questions about the duration of the hallucina- tions and what the suspect does to cope with these perceptual disturbances. It is also important to ask the suspect whether he or she has ever received treatment for their complaints, told any- one else about the hallucinations, and whether they occurred while intoxicated and/or in the absence of substance use. Any af- PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES C L A I M S O F I N S A N I T Y D U R I N G I N T E R R O G AT I O N

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of POLICE Magazine - SEP 2018