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Georgia Code - Criminal Procedure - Title 17, Section 17-7-131

Legal Research Home > Georgia Laws > Criminal Procedure > Georgia Code - Criminal Procedure - Title 17, Section 17-7-131

(a) For purposes of this Code section, the term:

(1) 'Insane at the time of the crime' means meeting the criteria of Code Section 16-3-2 or Code Section 16-3-3. However, the term shall not include a mental state manifested only by repeated unlawful or antisocial conduct.

(2) 'Mentally ill' means having a disorder of thought or mood which significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life. However, the term 'mental illness' shall not include a mental state manifested only by repeated unlawful or antisocial conduct.

(3) 'Mentally retarded' means having significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning resulting in or associated with impairments in adaptive behavior which manifested during the developmental period.

(b)(1) In all cases in which the defense of insanity is interposed, the jury, or the court if tried by it, shall find whether the defendant is:

(A) Guilty;

(B) Not guilty;

(C) Not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime;

(D) Guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime, but the finding of guilty but mentally ill shall be made only in felony cases; or

(E) Guilty but mentally retarded, but the finding of mental retardation shall be made only in felony cases.

(2) A plea of guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime or a plea of guilty but mentally retarded shall not be accepted until the defendant has undergone examination by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist and the court has examined the psychological or psychiatric reports, held a hearing on the issue of the defendant´s mental condition, and is satisfied that there is a factual basis that the defendant was mentally ill at the time of the offense or mentally retarded to which the plea is entered.

(2.1) A plea of not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime shall not be accepted and the defendant adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity by the court without a jury until the defendant has undergone examination by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist and the court has examined the psychological or psychiatric reports, has held a hearing on the issue of the defendant´s mental condition, and the court is satisfied that the defendant was insane at the time of the crime according to the criteria of Code Section 16-3-2 or 16-3-3.

(3) In all cases in which the defense of insanity is interposed, the trial judge shall charge the jury, in addition to other appropriate charges, the following:

(A) I charge you that should you find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime, the defendant will be committed to a state mental health facility until such time, if ever, that the court is satisfied that he or she should be released pursuant to law.

(B) I charge you that should you find the defendant guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime, the defendant will be given over to the Department of Corrections or the Department of Human Resources, as the mental condition of the defendant may warrant.

(C) I charge you that should you find the defendant guilty but mentally retarded, the defendant will be given over to the Department of Corrections or the Department of Human Resources, as the mental condition of the defendant may warrant.

(c) In all criminal trials in any of the courts of this state wherein an accused shall contend that he was insane or otherwise mentally incompetent under the law at the time the act or acts charged against him were committed, the trial judge shall instruct the jury that they may consider, in addition to verdicts of 'guilty' and 'not guilty,' the additional verdicts of 'not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime,' 'guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime,' and 'guilty but mentally retarded.'

(1) The defendant may be found 'not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime' if he meets the criteria of Code Section 16-3-2 or 16-3-3 at the time of the commission of the crime. If the court or jury should make such finding, it shall so specify in its verdict.

(2) The defendant may be found 'guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime' if the jury, or court acting as trier of facts, finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged and was mentally ill at the time of the commission of the crime. If the court or jury should make such finding, it shall so specify in its verdict.

(3) The defendant may be found 'guilty but mentally retarded' if the jury, or court acting as trier of facts, finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged and is mentally retarded. If the court or jury should make such finding, it shall so specify in its verdict.

(d) Whenever a defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime, the court shall retain jurisdiction over the person so acquitted and shall order such person to be detained in a state mental health facility, to be selected by the Department of Human Resources, for a period not to exceed 30 days from the date of the acquittal order, for evaluation of the defendant´s present mental condition. Upon completion of the evaluation, the proper officials of the mental health facility shall send a report of the defendant´s present mental condition to the trial judge, the prosecuting attorney, and the defendant´s attorney, if any.

(e)(1) After the expiration of the 30 days´ evaluation period in the state mental health facility, if the evaluation report from the Department of Human Resources indicates that the defendant does not meet the inpatient commitment criteria of Chapter 3 of Title 37 or Chapter 4 of Title 37, the trial judge may issue an order discharging the defendant from custody without a hearing.

(2) If the defendant is not so discharged, the trial judge shall order a hearing to determine if the defendant meets the inpatient commitment criteria of Chapter 3 of Title 37 or Chapter 4 of Title 37. If such criteria are not met, the defendant must be discharged.

(3) The defendant shall be detained in custody until completion of the hearing. The hearing shall be conducted at the earliest opportunity after the expiration of the 30 days´ evaluation period but in any event within 30 days after receipt by the prosecuting attorney of the evaluation report from the mental health facility. The court may take judicial notice of evidence introduced during the trial of the defendant and may call for testimony from any person with knowledge concerning whether the defendant is currently a mentally ill person in need of involuntary treatment or currently mentally retarded and in need of being ordered to receive services, as those terms are defined by paragraph (12) of Code Section 37-3-1 and Code Section 37-4-40. The prosecuting attorney may cross-examine the witnesses called by the court and the defendant´s witnesses and present relevant evidence concerning the issues presented at the hearing.

(4) If the judge determines that the defendant meets the inpatient commitment criteria of Chapter 3 of Title 37 or Chapter 4 of Title 37, the judge shall order the defendant to be committed to the Department of Human Resources to receive involuntary treatment under Chapter 3 of Title 37 or to receive services under Chapter 4 of Title 37. The defendant is entitled to the following rights specified below and shall be notified in writing of these rights at the time of his admission for evaluation under subsection (d) of this Code section. Such rights are:

(A) A notice that a hearing will be held and the time and place thereof;

(B) A notice that the defendant has the right to counsel and that the defendant or his representatives may apply immediately to the court to have counsel appointed if the defendant cannot afford counsel and that the court will appoint counsel for the defendant unless he indicates in writing that he does not desire to be represented by counsel;

(C) The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses and to offer evidence;

(D) The right to subpoena witnesses and to require testimony before the court in person or by deposition from any person upon whose evaluation the decision of the court may rest;

(E) Notice of the right to have established an individualized service plan specifically tailored to the person´s treatment needs, as such plans are defined in Chapter 3 of Title 37 and Chapter 4 of Title 37; and

(F) A notice that the defendant has the right to be examined by a physician or a licensed clinical psychologist of his own choice at his own expense and to have that physician or psychologist submit a suggested service plan for the patient which conforms with the requirements of Chapter 3 of Title 37 or Chapter 4 of Title 37, whichever is applicable.

(5)(A) If a defendant appears to meet the criteria for outpatient involuntary treatment as defined in Part 3 of Article 3 of Chapter 3 of Title 37, which shall be the criteria for release on a trial basis in the community in preparation for a full release, the court may order a period of conditional release subject to certain conditions set by the court. The court is authorized to appoint an appropriate community service provider to work in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources to monitor the defendant´s compliance with these conditions and to make regular reports to the court.

(B) If the defendant successfully completes all requirements during this period of conditional release, the court shall discharge the individual from commitment at the end of that period. Such individuals may be referred for community mental health, mental retardation, or substance abuse services as appropriate. The court may require the individual to participate in outpatient treatment or any other services or programs authorized by Chapter 3, 4, or 7 of Title 37.

(C) If the defendant does not successfully complete any or all requirements of the conditional release period, the court may:

(i) Revoke the period of conditional release and return the defendant to a state hospital for inpatient services; or

(ii) Impose additional or revise existing conditions on the defendant as appropriate and continue the period of conditional release.

(D) For any decision rendered under subparagraph (C) of this paragraph, the defendant may request a review by the court of such decision within 20 days of the order of the court.

(E) The Department of Human Resources and any community services providers, including the employees and agents of both, providing supervision or treatment during a period of conditional release shall not be held criminally or civilly liable for any acts committed by a defendant placed by the committing court on a period of conditional release.

(f) A defendant who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime and is ordered committed to the Department of Human Resources under subsection (e) of this Code section may only be discharged from that commitment by order of the committing court in accordance with the procedures specified in this subsection:

(1) Application for the release of a defendant who has been committed to the Department of Human Resources under subsection (e) of this Code section upon the ground that he does not meet the civil commitment criteria under Chapter 3 of Title 37 or Chapter 4 of Title 37 may be made to the committing court, either by such defendant or by the superintendent of the state hospital in which the said defendant is detained;

(2) The burden of proof in such release hearing shall be upon the applicant. The defendant shall have the same rights in the release hearing as set forth in subsection (e) of this Code section; and

(3) If the finding of the court is adverse to release in such hearing held pursuant to this subsection on the grounds that such defendant does meet the inpatient civil commitment criteria, a further release application by the defendant shall not be heard by the court until 12 months have elapsed from the date of the hearing upon the last preceding application. The Department of Human Resources shall have the independent right to request a release hearing once every 12 months.

(g)(1) Whenever a defendant is found guilty but mentally ill at the time of a felony or guilty but mentally retarded, or enters a plea to that effect that is accepted by the court, the court shall sentence him in the same manner as a defendant found guilty of the offense, except as otherwise provided in subsection (j) of this Code section. A defendant who is found guilty but mentally ill at the time of the felony or guilty but mentally retarded shall be evaluated by a psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist from the Department of Human Resources after sentencing and prior to transfer to a Department of Corrections facility. The Board of Human Resources shall develop appropriate rules and regulations for the implementation of such procedures.

(2) If the defendant who is found guilty but mentally ill at the time of the felony or guilty but mentally retarded is not in need of immediate hospitalization, as indicated by the evaluation, then the defendant shall be committed to an appropriate penal facility and shall be further evaluated and then treated, within the limits of state funds appropriated therefor, in such manner as is psychiatrically indicated for his mental illness or mental retardation.

(3) If at any time following the defendant´s transfer to a penal facility it is determined that a transfer to the Department of Human Resources is psychiatrically indicated for his mental illness or mental retardation, then the defendant shall be transferred to the Department of Human Resources pursuant to procedures set forth in regulations of the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Resources.

(4) If it is determined by the evaluation that the defendant found guilty but mentally ill at the time of the felony or guilty but mentally retarded is in need of immediate hospitalization, then the defendant shall be transferred by the Department of Corrections to a mental health facility designated by the Department of Human Resources in accordance with rules and regulations of such departments.

(h) If a defendant who is found guilty but mentally ill at the time of a felony or guilty but mentally retarded is placed on probation under the 'State-wide Probation Act,' Article 2 of Chapter 8 of Title 42, the court may require that the defendant undergo available outpatient medical or psychiatric treatment or seek similar available voluntary inpatient treatment as a condition of probation. Persons required to receive such services may be charged fees by the provider of the services.

(i) In any case in which the defense of insanity is interposed or a plea of guilty but mentally ill at the time of the felony or a plea of guilty but mentally retarded is made and an examination is made of the defendant pursuant to Code Section 17-7-130.1 or paragraph (2) of subsection (b) of this Code section, upon the defendant´s being found guilty or guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime or guilty but mentally retarded, a copy of any such examination report shall be forwarded to the Department of Corrections with the official sentencing document.

(j) In the trial of any case in which the death penalty is sought which commences on or after July 1, 1988, should the judge find in accepting a plea of guilty but mentally retarded or the jury or court find in its verdict that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged but mentally retarded, the death penalty shall not be imposed and the court shall sentence the defendant to imprisonment for life.

Last modified: April 25, 2006