Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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Volume 3 Issue 1 (Winter 1985), Pages i-i, 1-115

Pathological gambling as an insanity defense (pages 85-101)


Recognition of pathological gambling as a diagnostic and clinical entity has been paralleled by its use as an insanity defense by gamblers engaged in criminal behavior. The societal ramifications of exculpation for crimes committed by volitionally impaired defendants require a critical analysis of the relationship between mental illness and criminal acts. Following a summary of current knowledge about pathological gambling as a clinical disorder, case law relevant to its use as an insanity defense is reviewed. It is argued that pathological gambling is not a serious mental illness for the purposes of the criminal law and that it bears no causal relationship to criminal activity. Legal and societal interests dictate that pathological gambling be excluded as a potential insanity defense.

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