A bill currently being considered by the Colorado House proposes a significant change in how the insanity defense would function in Colorado’s criminal courts. Under current law, if a defendant pleads not guilty by reason of insanity and introduces any evidence of insanity, the prosecution ultimately has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was, in fact, sane. The bill currently under consideration proposes that the defendant have the burden of proving his insanity, once asserted, by clear and convincing evidence.
Should the bill be passed, it is likely to make it more difficult for a defendant to successfully assert this defense. The insanity defense is something distinct from the question of competency in a criminal case, in terms of whether a defendant is competent to proceed with his case.