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In criminal law, in some jurisdictions, a jury may reach a verdict of “Guilty But Mentally Ill” where the accused is found to have committed the crime charged but where the mental illness is not significant enough to warrant a verdict of Not Guilty because of Insanity. A GBMI defendant can be sentenced to the same degree as a defendant without any mental problems.

When a defendant is found guilty but mentally ill, it means that the jury has determined that the individual committed the crime charged and has a mental illness but that the mental illness is not severe enough to meet the legal criteria for a verdict of “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” (NGRI).  In those cases, the insanity-defense acquittee is released from psychiatric commitment once he or she is deemed to be no longer dangerous. In other words, the defendant is considered criminally responsible for their actions, but their mental health condition is considered during sentencing. The GBMI does not typically replace the insanity defense standard but presents an additional verdict option. The GBMI verdict has met with sound criticism and little empirical support; nonetheless, 20 states have adopted it.

The GBMI verdict allows the court to impose a regular criminal sentence, including incarceration, probation, or other penalties. The key distinction from a standard guilty verdict is that the court acknowledges the presence of a mental illness, and the defendant may receive mental health treatment while serving their sentence.

Critics argue that the GBMI verdict serves no necessary purpose and is a misleading verdict, introduced purely for political reasons. It is alleged that the verdict only confuses jurors and enables them to find a disproportionate number of defendants “guilty.” In fact, some mock jury research has found that mock jurors tend to use the GBMI verdict as a “compromise” verdict where members of the jury are torn between finding a defendant guilty or finding the defendant NGRI.

Despite the criticisms of the GBMI verdict and its general lack of support, the verdict has proven quite popular with politicians. Since its inception 25 years ago, at least 20 states have enacted GBMI provisions.

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