Table of Contents


Competency and Insanity 


A defendant is considered incompetent to stand trial or be sentenced if he lacks present ability to help in his defense by working with a lawyer with a reasonable degree of understanding of the facts and legal proceedings. Also includes the procedure for competency evaluations and determinations. - Alabama Rule of Crim. Pro. Rule 11 


Insanity is an affirmative defense (the burden is on the Defendant to show that he was insane [did not know the criminal act was wrong] at the time of the crime, not on state to show that he wasn’t insane at the time). Ala. Code § 15-16-2

Insanity defined: the Defendant, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his acts (must be proved by clear and convicing evidence). Ala. Code § 13A-3-1

Special Rules

ID/D specific rules: Alabama has a section of its code entitled “Mentally Retarded Defendants – governs procedure in cases where defendant has I/DD (or the issue of D having I/DD is brought up). Ala. Code § 15-24

Defines “mentally retarded person” as “a person with significant subaverage general intellectual functioning resulting in or associated with concurrent impairments in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, as measured by appropriate standardized testing instruments."  § 15-24-2

Either the defendant or the state may file a verified affidavit with the court to establish that the defendant is a person who has been identified as “mentally retarded” and has received or is receiving services through the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation or other recognized organization. § 15-24-3

The affidavit may be used to make decisions about place of detention, bail hearings, and ultimate outcome of the case. § 15-24-4 

If the defendant is determined by the court to be mentally retarded, the judge may: (1) Consider the information submitted in determining the need for pretrial release along with appropriate conditions; or (2) Order that the defendant, if he is not released, be accorded placement consistent with his special status so as to better protect him during this period of pretrial confinement. § 15-24-5


Sentencing enhancement if the offense was motivated by the victim’s “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability.” Ala. Code § 13A-5-13

Death Penalty