Durham Rule | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

The Durham Rule, also known as the Durham standard, is a legal principle that is used to determine whether a defendant’s criminal behavior was the result of a mental illness.

The Durham Rule was established in the 1954 case of Durham v. United States, in which the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that a defendant could not be found guilty of a crime if their criminal behavior was the result of a mental illness.

Under the Durham Rule, a defendant must show that their mental illness was the cause of their criminal behavior in order to be found not guilty by reason of insanity. This means that the defendant must show that they could not distinguish right from wrong or conform their behavior to the law due to their mental illness.

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Last Modified: 01/09/2023


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