Sleep apnea is one of the most commonly diagnosed sleeping disorders in America. It is now becoming one of the most commonly used defenses in criminal cases.
The Sleep Apnea Made Me Do It
The sleep apnea defense is becoming increasingly common, especially for criminal cases. The defendant will plead not guilty for the crime claiming he or she was not responsible for the alleged actions as a result of having sleep apnea. Those using this defense claim to have suddenly fallen asleep before committing the alleged crime. They argue that they were not aware of having committed the crime and for that reason cannot be found guilty.
The first time this defense was used was in 1994. It was used as a defense in a murder trial. Though unsuccessful, it has been used successfully thereafter and has become one of the most common defenses in car and train crash cases.
Valid Defense Or Not
One of the biggest questions is whether sleep apnea is a valid defense for criminal acts. There’s no correct answer for this question. It depends on the situation and the people you ask.
Sleep apnea, however, has been associated with confused awakenings as well as nightmares. It has also been shown to significantly increase the risk of a person dozing off while carrying out day to day activities such as driving a car.
The big question is whether someone can blame his sleep apnea for his criminal acts. While you can’t carry out complex actions as a result of sleep apnea, you may perform simple actions such as reaching out for pillows while asleep. Arguing a sleep apnea defense can therefore be complex. You’ll need to provide evidence that can link your behavior to the sleep apnea – probably with expert testimony.
It’s All About Awareness
The strength of the sleep apnea defense lies in your lack of awareness of your actions. You’ll need to have the relevant pieces in place to show that you were not aware of what you were doing as a result of the effects of sleep apnea.
This disorder can be used to explain certain behavior, such as falling asleep behind the wheel or while operating machinery. However, it is not adequate in defending crimes requiring complex actions such as picking a gun, aiming it, and killing or injuring someone.
Criminal Defense Lawyer
It is possible for a person to have sleep apnea and not know about it. The symptoms of the condition overlap with other conditions, making it hard to diagnose. If you’ve been charged with a criminal act that resulted from sleep apnea, get in touch with a criminal defense attorney for help in building your defense.