Personality disorders as grounds for reduced sentence in murder cases

Shmuel Fennig, David Roe, Yossi Laria, Shachar Eldar, Silvana Fennig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Clause 300 A (A) of the Israel penal code stipulates that severe mental disorder may serve as grounds for reduced sentence in cases of murder. There is an unresolved debate in the forensic psychiatric field whether severe personality disorders are included in this category. We present a set of criteria for applying this clause to offenders with personality disorder and demonstrate through three cases how these criteria can be used. All three cases had the following basic characteristics: A. Established diagnosis of severe personality disorder on the basis of historical data from multiple sources and in accordance with the evidence presented to the court. B. Presentation of a coherent description of the content of the murder as it directly affected the offender's severe impairment, with a strong link between the pathology and the offender's reduced capacity to understand or avoid the act. C. Establishment of the significantly limiting impact of the personality disorder on the offender's capacity to avoid the act, as based on the evidence presented to the court. We conclude that guidelines for formulating the psychiatric assessment and court report are feasible and necessary in these cases. Further experience in this area is needed until definite conclusions can be reached. Further studies are needed to confirm the suitability of this method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-148
Number of pages9
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


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