Friday, October 28, 2011

The Insanity Defense: Stacy Schuler Might Be Crazy. But Not Crazy Enough.

Stacy Schuler has officially been convicted of having sex with students.  More specifically, the extremely popular Ohio high school gym teacher has been convicted of 16 felony counts of sexual battery (and 3 misdemeanor counts of giving booze to minors) after Judge Robert Peeler rejected her insanity defense.  The Judge said he would refuse to take the “magnificent leap” that would be required to believe that Schuler did not know that her actions were wrong.

Even though the boys with whom she coupled are of age in Ohio, it is still illegal for a teacher to have sex with a student.  From what I gather, the boys were all 17 or older.  There were 5 of them, by the way.  Schuler will now have to register as a sex offender for life.

Rather than muse about the degree of moral gray area involved whenever a young female teacher has sex with a consenting “not quite adult, but old enough” football player(s), or the contrast of circumstances if Schuler had been an older man who had sex with a 17 year old cheerleader, today’s blog post will concentrate on Schuler’s insanity defense and Kentucky’s equivalent. 

Schuler wanted the court to accept the proposition that a combination of mental disorders, Zoloft, booze, a vegan diet, and irritable bowel syndrome rendered her unable to tell the difference between right and wrong.

See.  I don’t even have to interject any snide comment or make a joke.  This stuff just writes itself.

Let’s take a look at the Kentucky law on insanity defense and see how Schuler’s case would be analyzed here in the Bluegrass State.  “Insanity” is the slang term for the defense, and in Kentucky, we use the terms “Mental Illness or Retardation.”  KRS 504.020 governs the defense of Mental Illness or Retardation, and it reads in pertinent part:

(1) A person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the time of such conduct, as a result of mental illness or retardation, he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.

Let’s break it down like James Brown and see how the law would or would not apply to Schuler.  Obviously the “criminal conduct” to which the statute refers would include each time she had sex with a student.  Each act is a separate instance of criminal conduct.  So, in order to simplify this, let’s just assume she only had sex with one student, one time.  In Schuler’s case, she is not claiming retardation, so we’ll be using the “mental illness” language.  The trier of fact (be it judge or jury) must decide whether, at the time she had sex with a student, Schuler had a mental illness.  If she did have a mental illness, the trier of fact has to decide whether Schuler had the ability to (1) understand that what she was doing was illegal, or (2) conform her conduct to the law.  If the trier of fact decides that Schuler didn’t understand what she was doing was illegal, or that didn’t have enough control over herself to make herself conform to the law, then Schuler is NOT responsible for her criminal conduct.  

In this particular case, the Judge considered evidence that Schuler invited these boys over to her home, provided them with alcohol and marijuana, gave them back rubs and even some testimony from one of the boys that indicated she was planning an insanity defense as she was seducing the boys.  Therefore, he declined to accept her insanity defense.

On a side note, the Defense for Schuler brought up some evidence concerning “black outs” which can come from mixing Zoloft with a lot of alcohol.  This is a complicated area which I will leave for another day.  However, I do want to let you know that alcohol intoxication can, in certain circumstances, be a defense to a crime.  If you have a case and you have mental illness, retardation, or if you believe you may have an alcohol intoxication defense, talk to your lawyer about the defense options you may have.

Sex crimes are very serious.  Often, they can be felonies.  A conviction for certain sex crimes can require lifelong registration as a sex offender.  If you have been charged with rape, sexual assault, or unlawful transaction with a minor in Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, Elizabethtown, or the surrounding areas, call 502.618.4949 and speak with an experienced Louisville sex crimes lawyer today.  The initial consultation is free.

Results.  As fast as the law will allow.


Questions answered in this blog post: Explain Stacy Schuler's insanity defense; what is the insanity defense in Kentucky; how can someone plea insanity for a crime; can intoxication be a defense to a crime; why did the Judge reject Stacy Schuler's insanity plea; how can I find a good Louisville sex crime lawyer; how can I find a good Louisville sexual assault lawyer; how can I find a good Louisville rape lawyer; how much time did Stacy Schuler get; what is the standard for a Kentucky defense of Mental Illness or Retardation?

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