The study of court-ordered forensic psychiatric evaluations for offenders with schizophrenia with homicide charges in Taiwan
Background: Homicidal offenders with schizophrenia who went through psychiatric evaluations are a small but significant group during criminal appeal. However, studies regarding the criminal responsibilities of homicide offenders with specific psychiatric diagnosis such as schizophrenia were rare. Our aims are to explore as to whether the types of crime, such as homicide or not would be related to the verdicts for the alleged offenders with schizophrenia in Taiwan, since our hypothesis was that
... ypothesis was that homicide cases, rather than other alleged offenses, would be more likely to be regarded as no responsibility (legal insanity) or diminished responsibility for those defendants, in the forensic psychiatric evaluation opinions or the court verdicts. Methods: A retrospective comparison of the homicide offenders with the non-homicide offenders with schizophrenia, registered between December 2000 and November 2009, was conducted in the web-based, national, open access court verdicts databank. Results: There were 33 (3.4%) in 9,691 criminal homicide offenders that had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. There were 33 in the homicide group and 22 in the non-homicide group. Among these defendants in the homicide group, three (9.09%) were regarded as legal insanity, and 21 (63.64%) were regarded as diminished responsibility, in comparison to the zero (0%) as legal insanity and nine (40.91%) as diminished responsibility in the non-homicide group (p = 0.029). In addition, the group with multiple evaluations tended to receive forensic psychiatric opinions as legal insanity (N=3; 33.33%), and the group with single evaluation tended to receive forensic psychiatric opinions as diminished responsibility (N=16; 66.67%) (p = 0.017). The group with multiple evaluations tended to be ruled as legal insanity in the court (p = 0.001). Conclusions: Homicide cases would be more likely to be regarded as legal insanity or diminished responsibility for the defendants with schizophrenia, in the forensic psychiatric evaluation opinions or the court verdicts.