Concept

Non compos mentis

Résumé
Non compos mentis is a Latin legal phrase that translates to "of unsound mind": nōn ("not") prefaces compos mentis, meaning "having control of one's mind." This phrase was first used in thirteenth-century English law to describe people afflicted by madness, the loss of memory or ability to reason. Usage The status of non compos mentis applied to those who were not mad from birth, but became so later in life through no fault of their own. The property and interests of such a person could be committed to another party to conserve and administer them for the duration of their madness. Their criminal culpability was also limited except in cases of high treason. This contrasted with "natural fools" who were mad from birth and whose property interests passed to the crown, and habitual drunkards, who could claim no defense of madness. Prosecution of suicide Non compos mentis and felo de se (the Latin word for "self-murder") presented two different verdicts in the case of
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