Diminished Capacity

Diminished Capacity

Definition

In the criminal law context, a defense to criminal liability providing that because of some mental disorder or condition, the defendant was unable to form the necessary mens rea for the crime. The diminished-capacity defense is recognized in a minority of jurisdictions and is also known as diminished or partial criminal responsibility. In the legal ethics context, a client has diminished capacity if the client's ability to understand the client's lawyer and the legal transaction at hand is compromised. Diminished capacity in the legal ethics context is a sliding scale; a client with mildly diminished capacity can proceed normally with legal transactions within reason but a client who is substantially compromised cannot.

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