“Not guilty by reason of insanity” is a plea by a criminal defendant who admits the
criminal act, but claims that he or she was mentally disturbed at the time of the
crime and lacked the mental capacity to have intended to commit a crime. Such a plea
requires that a court conduct a trial on the issue of insanity alone. Before conducting
such a trial, the court may confine a beneficiary for a psychological examination.
After completion of a psychological evaluation, the court makes a decision about the
beneficiary’s sanity. An insanity judgment results in a verdict of "not guilty." If
the beneficiary’s insanity condition continues, it may result in commitment to a mental
facility for the criminally insane or to a mental hospital. If the beneficiary’s insanity
condition is temporary, the judge has the option to require the beneficiary to undergo
A court declares a defendant NGRI when it:
finds a defendant guilty but insane with respect to a criminal offense;
finds a defendant not guilty of a criminal offense by reason of insanity; or
issues a similar verdict or finding with respect to a criminal offense based on similar
factors (such as mental disease, mental defect, or mental incompetence).
Being NGRI is not the same as being insane at the time of trial and consequently incompetent
to stand trial (IST). A court postpones an IST defendant’s trial and normally confines
the defendant to a mental facility pending his or her recovery. For more information
on IST beneficiaries, see GN 02607.330.