Does my son have to go to prison for his actions when he has been diagnosed as schizophrenic?
In Washington, every man is to be presumed to be sane, and to establish a defense on the ground of insanity, the defense must prove that the defendant, due to mental disease, didn't know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong. This is usually proven by testimony from expert witnesses who have conducted psychological examinations of the defendant.
Defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity are not simply released from custody. They are generally committed to mental hospitals where they can be confined for longer than their prison terms would have been.
All jurisdictions require that criminal defendants must be competent to stand trial, meaning that defendants understand the nature of the proceedings against them and are able to assist counsel in their defense. A person who is found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial is usually hospitalized for treatment until such time that the person is competent to stand trial.
Hallucinations or paranoid delusions are common symptoms of schizophrenia that may prevent a person from having criminal intent. A successful criminal defense will require proof that the defendant has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and that the defendant was so delusional at the time of the offense that he lacked the ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his acts. Such proof will generally require expert testimony based upon testing and diagnosis.