Experienced and Accessible Criminal Defense on Your Side Call or Text Me Today
Wooden gavel, handcuff and books on wooden table

Mental Health and Criminal Defense

Greg Nelson Attorney at Law  Sept. 19, 2023

Mental health disorder is among the major causes of emotional instability and behavioral disruptions. Unfortunately, an individual suffering from a mental health or psychiatric condition may get occasional triggers to act violently or take some actions that are against the law, even without any intent. If you've been charged with a crime related to your mental health issue, you need to retain a Nebraska criminal defense attorney to help build your defense. 

At Greg Nelson Attorney at Law, I have focused my career on protecting defendants with mental issues from the worst possible situation for their otherwise unintentional acts. As your legal counsel, I can assess your case details and craft an effective defense strategy to help fight your charges in pursuit of the most favorable outcome. My firm proudly serves clients in Omaha and surrounding areas throughout the state of Nebraska, including those in Saunders, Washington, Dodge, and Sarpy counties. 

Common Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders include various mental issues that affect a person's thinking, behavior, and emotions. Here are some mental health problems that are often connected with individuals who have been arrested and charged with crimes: 

  • Psychosis 

  • Schizophrenia 

  • Antisocial personality disorder 

  • Bipolar disorder 

  • Depression 

  • Trauma 

  • Phobias 

  • Anxiety disorders 

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

  • Borderline personality disorder 

  • Addiction and substance use disorder 

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder 

  • Mood disorder 

Unfortunately, mental health patients have increased risks of acting disruptively, violently, or violating the law without feeling apologetic. A dependable lawyer can investigate your case and help decide the possibility of fighting your charges using the mental health or insanity defense. 

Mental Health as a Defense

In the state of Nebraska, the mental capacity or insanity defense is an affirmative defense that an attorney can use in a criminal case. According to Nebraska Revised Statute Section 29-2203, 

"Any person prosecuted for an offense may plead that he or she is not responsible by reason of insanity at the time of the offense and in such case the burden shall be upon the defendant to prove the defense of not responsible by reason of insanity by a preponderance of the evidence." 

From the statute referenced earlier, your legal counsel can use the insanity defense as a legal defense to help fight your charges. This must be established by a preponderance of the evidence. However, Nebraska law requires that the offender’s attorney must provide the court with notice of intention to rely upon the insanity defense at least sixty (60) days prior to the trial. 

Classification of Mental Health Defense

The mental health or insanity defenses may be classified into criminal responsibility and competency. 

Criminal Responsibility 

Criminal responsibility is an affirmative legal defense which focuses on the mental condition of the defendant while committing the crime. To prove criminal responsibility, the defense counsel must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant suffered from episodic or persistent mental health disorder. 


Competency is a legal defense that puts emphasis on the current mental limitations of the offender. Due to this, the mentally ill defendant won't be able to stand trial. Thus, they may be committed to a state mental hospital or provided with the necessary treatment. 

However, whether the defense counsel wants to establish competency or criminal responsibility, the criminal court may order a licensed physician or psychologist to examine the mental health situation of the accused person. 

Proving Mental Health Claims

Additionally, to prove insanity defense as a legal defense in Nebraska, the defense counsel must show that: 

  • The offender had a mental issue at the time of the crime.  

  • The offender did not know or understand the nature and consequences of their actions. 

  • The offender is unable to differentiate between right and wrong. 

  • The offender is unable to understand the legal process. 

A trusted lawyer can explore your available legal defenses, seek to establish an insanity defense, and represent you aggressively at every phase of the legal process in pursuit of the best available outcome for your unique circumstances. 

Committed to Building Your Best Defense

Facing criminal charges as a mental health patient can be terrifying. However, you don't have to be subject to any unjust penalty for your otherwise unintentional actions. At Greg Nelson Attorney at Law, I have the resources to represent and defend individuals with mental health issues in their criminal cases. I can help prove the insanity defense, fight vigorously to uphold your freedom, and improve your chances of a better tomorrow. 

Contact me at Greg Nelson Attorney at Law today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a reliable criminal defense attorney. I can offer you the vigorous representation and skilled legal guidance you need in your case. My firm proudly serves clients in Omaha and surrounding areas throughout the state of Nebraska, including those in Saunders, Washington, Dodge, and Sarpy counties.