diminished capacity
di·min·ished capacity /də-'mi-nisht-/ n
1: an abnormal mental condition that renders a person unable to form the specific intent necessary for the commission of a crime (as first-degree murder) but that does not amount to insanity – called also diminished responsibility, partial insanity; compare insanity, irresistible impulse test, m'naghten test, substantial capacity test
2 a: a defense based on a claim of diminished capacity
b: the doctrine that diminished capacity may negate an element of a crime
◇ If diminished capacity is shown, negating an element of the crime with which a defendant is charged, the defendant can only be convicted of a lesser offense that does not include the element.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. . 1996.

diminished capacity
n.
In criminal law, a mental state that is not sufficient to have the mens rea needed to commit a crime, brought on by mental disease or defect, trauma, or intoxication; also called diminished responsibility

The Essential Law Dictionary. — Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. . 2008.


diminished capacity
An impaired mental condition, caused by disease, trauma, or intoxication but short of insanity, that can reduce the criminal responsibility of a defendant. Not all states allow defendants to offer this plea in response to criminal charges.
Category: Criminal Law
Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.


diminished capacity
This doctrine recognizes that although, at the time the offense was committed, an accused was not suffering from a mental disease or defect sufficient to exonerate him or her from all criminal responsibility, the accused's mental capacity may have been diminished by intoxication, trauma, or mental disease so that he or she did not possess the specific mental state or intent essential to the particular offense charged.

Dictionary from West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005.


diminished capacity
This doctrine recognizes that although, at the time the offense was committed, an accused was not suffering from a mental disease or defect sufficient to exonerate him or her from all criminal responsibility, the accused's mental capacity may have been diminished by intoxication, trauma, or mental disease so that he or she did not possess the specific mental state or intent essential to the particular offense charged.

Short Dictionary of (mostly American) Legal Terms and Abbreviations.

diminished capacity
n.
   essentially a psychological term which has found its way into criminal trials. A contention of diminished capacity means that although the accused was not insane, due to emotional distress, physical condition or other factors he/she could not fully comprehend the nature of the criminal act he/she is accused of committing, particularly murder or attempted murder. It is raised by the defense in attempts to remove the element of premeditation or criminal intent and thus obtain a conviction for a lesser crime, such as manslaughter instead of murder. While the theory has some legitimacy, at times juries have been overly impressed by psychiatric testimony. The most notorious case was in People v. Dan White, the admitted killer of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, who got only a manslaughter conviction on the basis that his capacity was diminished by the sugar content of his blood due to eating "Twinkies."
   See also: insanity, M'Naughten rule

Law dictionary. . 2013.

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