Methamphetamine Motivated Murder: Forensic Psychological/psychiatric & Legal Applications in Criminal Contexts

By Fabian, John Matthew | Journal of Psychiatry & Law, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Methamphetamine Motivated Murder: Forensic Psychological/psychiatric & Legal Applications in Criminal Contexts


Fabian, John Matthew, Journal of Psychiatry & Law


This article examines the clinical and forensic (psycho-legal) aspects of methamphetamine use. The author will describe the clinical and psychiatric effects of the drug on an individual's functioning. Forensic psychological/psychiatric issues including substance-induced psychosis relevant to a not guilty by reason of insanity defense, diminished capacity, and mitigation at capital sentencing will be addressed. Case law pursuant to forensic aspects of methamphetamine use will also be thoroughly explored.

KEY WORDS: Methamphetamine, substance induced psychosis, forensic psychology, forensic psychiatry, insanity, mitigation.

In recent years there has been an increase in violent offenses, often homicides that are committed while an offender is under the influence of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine use has various psychophysiological effects and can lead to paranoid thoughts, acute substance induced psychotic states, and ultimately intense aggressive and violent behavior (Hunt, Kuck & Truitt, 2005).

An offender who commits a criminal offense while under the influence of methamphetamine, like other offenders, may be evaluated at various stages of the legal proceedings. Such examinations may include competency to waive Miranda rights, competency to stand trial, mental state at the time of the offense, diminished capacity, mitigation at sentencing, and competency to waive mitigation and appeals. The time between one's Miranda warnings and an evaluation regarding competency to waive appeals may be many years. Similarly, an individual's physiological effects from the drug methamphetamine may linger for long periods of time, disrupting his cognitive and affective states, and impairing his ability to function in his legal proceedings.

The forensic mental health professional who is requested to examine an offender with a chronic history of methamphetamine use should have a knowledge base about the biopsychosocial effects of this drug on the brain, and subsequently the consequences on an individual's functioning and behavior. The drug's properties and interaction within the brain can lead to acute psychotic states and subsequent violence (Subcommittee on Crime, House of Representatives, 1995). It may cause symptoms similar to schizophrenia, paranoid type (Caton, Samet & Hasin, 2000; Sato, Numachi & Hamamura, 1992). The chronic methamphetamine user may likely have a history of mental illness and dual diagnosis status (Lin, Ball, Hsiao, Chiang, Ree & Chen, 2004). Consequently, it may be difficult for the forensic clinician to determine the etiology of the violent acts from a mental health standpoint.

This article explores how a forensic mental health expert witness can assist the court, jury, and legal counsel in applying his/her knowledge of the drug to various legal referral issues. For purposes of this article, this author will specifically consider methamphetamine-induced psychosis relevant to diminished capacity, insanity, and mitigation at sentencing.

What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that came into vogue in Hawaii in the 1980's and found its way eastward to California. Lately it has become very popular in Midwest areas (Yudko, Murray-Bridges & Watson-Hauanio, 2003). Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (United States Drug enforcement Agency, 2007). The drug is illegally manufactured in various forms including: "Crank," (methamphetamine sulfate); "Crystal," (methamphetamine hydrochloride); and "Ice" which is a pure form of D-MA-hydrochloride (Ray & Ksir, 2002). Ice is produced from chemicals that until recently could be purchased over the counter at drug stores but are currently under stricter scrutiny and not as readily available. The drug is rarely sold in pure form; rather, it is diluted with other chemicals. It is commonly produced by the reduction of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Methamphetamine Motivated Murder: Forensic Psychological/psychiatric & Legal Applications in Criminal Contexts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.