American Law Institute Rule

The American Law Institute rule (also known as the ALI rule) is a condition of criminal responsibility that states that an individual is not responsible for criminal behavior if at the time mental disease or deficits made the individual unable to know what they were doing was illegal and wrong.

It proposes a definition of criminal insanity and is essentially what is used in trials for the insanity defense.

For example, imagine a schizophrenic person off their meds having extreme delusions and hallucinations and during this state they destroy a few mailboxes. Although this is a federal offense, the individual didn't know at the time what they were doing and what the consequences of the behavior was due to their extreme mental agitation and the effects of their disease. The ALI rule proposes that this person shouldn't be held criminally responsible for their behavior as they did not know what they were doing was wrong. There are misconceptions about the insanity defense - television would have you believe that it is very common and very easy to 'get off' criminal charges using this method. This is untrue with very few cases using the insanity defense (less than 1%) and individuals who use it frequently spend as much time (if not more) in mental facilities as they would in jail.

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