Jane Gonzalez was arrested in Coral Springs, Florida for attempted murder of her own children. Gonzalez is going to need a criminal defense lawyer because these charges are very serious. According to news reports, Gonzalez allegedly rammed her Ford Mustang into the family’s garage just after telling her children to take off their seat belts. She is being held without bond. When police arrived, Gonzalez allegedly fought with the police and supposedly tried to grab one of the officer’s guns. As a result, Jane Gonzalez is not only facing criminal charges for attempted murder, but battery on a law enforcement officer, and for trying to grab the officer’s gun. At her first court appearance, a judge denied her bond, noting that she allegedly told the children to take off their seat belts before crashing the car into the family garage. The news is reporting that part of the incident was recorded on a neighbor’s surveillance camera.
This video footage will reveal a lot of important information about the case.
As a criminal defense lawyer, I can tell you that defending Jane Gonzalez in this case must take two approaches. First, Gonzalez’s criminal lawyer must determine if the evidence supports the allegations being made by police. Second, if we were to assume the allegations are 100% true, it is clear that Gonzalez suffers from a serious mental health problem.
Unlike the nonsense you see on television when a mobster fakes being crazy, it sounds like Jane Gonzalez may have had a very real mental break down and may be incompetent to stand trial, or in the alternative, may actually have a real insanity defense.
Contrary to public misconception, insanity is a real thing. It is as real as cancer, coronary disease, and a broken leg. The only difference is that the malfunction is in an intangible part of the brain.
When most people first hear about an insanity defense, they usually brush it off as some criminal defense lawyer loophole garbage. However, this is based on nothing more than simple ignorance.
Mental health illness is as real as any other type of illness. When the heart malfunctions and stops pumping blood, you go into cardiac arrest, pass out, and eventually die. When you go into liver failure, toxins in your blood build up and you ultimately die from being poisoned to death. Those with HIV infection lose the ability to fend off infections and die from complications as simple as the flu, which turns into pneumonia, which leads to respiratory failure and ultimately death.
These illnesses are real to people because their manifestations are tangible. You can do a blood test to check for HIV antibodies, for liver failure, and for cholesterol levels. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, a heart monitor will show a flat line.
The tangible nature of these malfunctions make them real to people.
However, have you ever considered what happens when the brain malfunctions?
The brain is you body’s computer, it isn’t a blood pump like your heart, it isn’t a filter like your liver, and it isn’t a police force like your immune system.
When your brain malfunctions, there is no blood test to see what is going on. There is electronic monitor you can plug it into to check its pulse. Moreover, there is no surgery you can have to fix it.
Unlike other organs, which are mechanical in nature, when the brain malfunctions it affects human behavior. Again, the brain is a computer, therefore, when it fails the failure is only noticeable in the way a person acts.
This is the essence of an insanity defense.
If it was a crime to have toxins in your blood, being diagnosed with liver failure would be a defense. If having pneumonia was illegal, having compromised immune system would be a defense. If having a heart attack was a crime, having pulmonary disease would be a defense.
The point is this: when someone has a valid insanity defense they cannot be held accountable for their actions because their actions are involuntary.
In other words, someone who is legally insane has as much control over their behavior as someone with liver disease has control over their blood toxicity levels.
This does not mean there is no control. It means the person needs help. Like a person with heart disease, they need to see a doctor and they need to get on medication.
Sending someone to prison with such a condition is not only arcane, it is illegal under our system of law.
If I was the criminal defense lawyer hired to defend Jane Gonzalez, I would immediately begin my work by investigating the facts of her case. I would want to see the neighbor’s surveillance video to see what it shows, if anything. Moreover, I would want to know how old the children in question are. We cannot assume that their claims are legitimate. Depending on their age, will depend on their ability to accurately perceive events and accurately report them to others at a later time. The child brain is an unsophisticated brain and does not interpret, record, or recall events like adults or even like adolescents or teenagers.
In short, the age of the children and their reliability is a major issue here.
While I was conducting that investigation, I would also immediately begin the psychiatric side of her defense. This would begin with a comprehensive psychological evaluation by a forensic psychologist to determine if she is mentally competent to stand trial.
Building an insanity defense would also entail the collection of her personal history. I would want to know what her mental health history entailed, her medical history, her social history, her school history, and her work history.
I would bet that her past is riddled with red flags that are just begging to be discovered.
If for no other reason, her criminal defense attorney will need to build a good record for appellate purposes, if things do not go as planned. Doing so begins now… long before any trial is had. It is important to note that successful criminal defense lawyers work a case within a comprehensive framework. Meaning, they defend a person not only with today’s issues in mind, but tomorrow’s and the day after as well.
Hopefully Jane Gonzalez will hire a criminal defense lawyer who understands these issues and who has the experience needed to litigate them in court.