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PTSD as a Defense From Portland Criminal Defense Attorney

An Iraq war veteran received probation and time served for pleading guilty to first degree criminal mischief. According to police, this veteran was allegedly beating a neighbor’s Dodge Charger with a chair and other objects, causing approximately $7,000 worth of damage. When a man tried to intervene to stop this, the veteran became enraged and began threatening this bystander. He then hopped in his car and led police on a chase before he was apprehended after running over a spike strip. When arrested, police allege this man’s blood-alcohol content was .19, more than twice the legal limit. According to his Portland criminal defense lawyer, this veteran suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is increasingly becoming a recognized problem in Oregon and around the country. In 2009, another Iraq war veteran was accused of shooting and killing another man. This veteran fully admitted to the killing and his Portland criminal defense lawyer blamed it on his PTSD. After two days of deliberation, an Oregon jury agreed that his condition contributed to the killing, finding this veteran guilty but insane. Per ORS 161.295, a person can be found guilty but insane if “the person lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of the conduct or to conform the conduct to the requirements of law.”


Some common symptoms of PTSD include:


  • Increased anxiety
  • Inability to sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hallucinations


How a Portland Criminal Defense Attorney Uses PTSD Diagnosis


As we learn more about this disorder and others like it, society is realizing that these people may be guilty but that treatment is the best option. The insanity defense is an affirmative defense that will be asserted by your Portland criminal defense lawyer in order to help explain your actions during a criminal act. A necessary part of many criminal acts is mens rea (“guilty mind”), meaning you have to know the act is bad when you do it. If a jury finds you lack the capacity for such judgment, it can lead to your acquittal. A skilled Portland criminal defense attorney will look at all the facts of your case and find the best defense, looking at your situation from all angles.


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