The repercussion of transitory mental disorder in Criminal Law


Updated on:


The mental disorders in the Spanish courts they have generated situations of attenuation of criminal responsibility and the impossibility of imputing a sentence. Which has given rise to the figure of transient mental disorder, a completely criminal concept that appears in the Penal Code.

He transient mental disorder appears abruptly, is short-lived and is alienable. Appears in artArticle 20.1 of the Penal Code as exemption from the penalty and a penalty will be imposed, but of the attenuated type. 

What is transient mental disorder?

He transient mental disorder (TMT) is a concept that has not originated in the psychological-psychiatric field but in the legal field. Which is formulated in the Criminal Code as favorable because it annuls the will and the cognitive faculties of the person without leaving sequelae and there is no danger that it can be repeated.

This disorder can be caused by acute poisoning, due to the abuse of harmful substances. He transient mental disorder It can present itself in two ways: 

Are you looking for a lawyer specialized in Criminal Law?

we help you find a criminal lawyer.
We have a wide network of collaborating lawyers in all Spain.

With a pathological basis, when the disease remains on the deficient characteristics of the person's mental functioning. 

Without pathological basis, when there are no significant alterations in the person's mental functioning. When this type of disorder occurs, it can be caused by a circumstantial agent, such as: withdrawal syndrome, alcohol intake, opiate use and pathological drunkenness.

The repercussion of transitory mental disorder in Criminal Law
The repercussion of transitory mental disorder in Criminal Law

He transient mental disorder can be incomplete or complete defense: 

When it is an incomplete defense, it can be mitigated if some type of serious alteration of consciousness or mental insanity can be demonstrated. The judge, in addition to the sentence, can impose some measures for the disorder, with which the sentence can be eliminated or reduced according to the result of the treatment.

In the event that it is a complete defense, criminal liability is eliminated.

Transient Mental Disorder Requirements

so that the mental disorder be considered transitory, the following conditions must be met: 

The disorder cannot be provoked.

It must have a sudden, acute beginning and that the person will previously be healthy.

The disorder must have an impact on the person's psyche in a way that nullifies or seriously reduces their basic faculties of acting in freedom. Which leads to liability.

The person must present a previous disorder that causes decompensation. 

Who is exempt from criminal responsibility?

He Article 20 of the Penal Code it's about the transient mental disorder and it is the way how it affects criminal law. This article establishes those who are exempt from criminal responsibility due to temporary mental disorder:

The person who, at the time of committing the criminal offence, presents any mental alteration or anomaly. What does not allow him to understand the illegality of the act or to act according to that understanding.

when the transient mental disorder It would have been provoked by the subject with the purpose of committing the crime or anticipating its commission, the penalty will not be exempted.

The person who at the time of committing the criminal offense is in a state of full intoxication. Due to the consumption of narcotics, toxic drugs, psychotropic substances, alcoholic beverages or others that cause similar effects. But only that this state has not been provoked with the intention of committing the offense. 

Criminal liability can also be exempted when the person is under the influence of a withdrawal syndrome. Which has been caused by his dependence on said substances, which does not allow him to understand the illegality of the act or act according to his understanding.

The person who, from birth or from childhood, suffers alterations in perception or has a seriously altered awareness of reality.

The individual who acts driven by an insurmountable fear.

What is the penalty imposed on a person with a temporary mental disorder?

The person with a permanent or transitory psychic alteration at the time of committing a criminal offense will not be imposed any type of penalty. In some cases, it will be a reduced penalty because your state does not allow you to know the illegality of your actions.

To determine this, the defective state must be analyzed, but taking into account medical and legal assessments. This is because what is established in article 20.1 is made up of psychological and biological elements, which must be attended to by the expert, in charge of the analysis.

The individual's capacity for guilt will be taken into account at the time the events occurred. But it is important to determine from when the subject lost his ability to direct.

This will be what allows us to know if he committed the criminal offense consciously or unconsciously and thus apply the corresponding penalty. 

In which cases is a temporary mental disorder considered an exemption?

He transient mental disorder caused It refers to situations where the subject causes a state of inculpability at the time of committing the wrongful act. Therefore, it is very important to know from what moment the provocation of the permanent or transitory psychic alteration must be considered as execution of the planned event. 

For this, it is important to differentiate the moment of the preceding action, which is when the guilt is present, from the moment of the defective action. This will be the moment in which the executive acts begin.

The way to know when the mental disorder has been caused with the purpose of committing any type of criminal offense is taking into account some requirements:

The provocation must create a direct danger, being able to relate the execution of said danger with the provocation. In addition, that with the provocation the individual finds himself, later, in a situation in which he does not have the capacity to control the danger that he himself has created.

When the provocation seeks to create a danger that directly affects a certain legal right. It also removes some of the capabilities important to the Criminal law, this being a more subjective requirement.

Leave a comment