AZ Supreme Court Rules Insanity Defense Triggers Mental Health Disclosure

Jul 10, 2017

An Arizona Supreme Court ruling says criminal defendants who claim an insanity defense and voluntarily undergo a mental health exam must provide the results to prosecutors.

The Arizona Supreme Court building
Credit azgovernor.gov

The ruling also says the disclosures to prosecutors must include a defendant's statements about the pending charges but that prosecutors can only use the statements to rebut insanity claims, not to prove guilt.

At issue in the appeal was whether requiring the disclosures violates Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

The unanimous ruling released Friday says Fifth Amendment rights aren't violated because the mental health exam wasn't ordered by a court and because defendants claiming an insanity defense have waived their protection against self-incrimination.

The ruling was issued in the case of Josh Rasmussen. He's awaiting trial in a 2013 Glendale homicide case.