Woman may assert criminal defense of insanity in stowaway case

Illinois recognizes the right of mentally ill and insane persons to be represented by counsel and receive a complete and vigorous defense to criminal charges. A person who is arrested must also be determined to be able to understand the charges and participate in his or her own defense or be declared mentally unfit to stand trial. Those who are declared to be mentally unfit may under certain circumstances be placed in a mental facility until they are declared capable of engaging in a criminal defense to the charges.

These issues could be relevant to the recent arrest of a woman who, according to authorities,  stowed away on a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to London’s Heathrow Airport. In fact, the woman is well-known by airport authorities and Illinois prosecutors as a “serial stowaway,” per various press reports. Police arrested the woman for felony theft and misdemeanor criminal trespassing when she returned from London to Chicago.

Investigators say that the woman spent 24 hours in Terminal 5, then boarded the flight to London by escaping security protocols. Court records indicate that the woman has been arrested several times for similar charges. It is also reported that she resided at a mental health facility prior to carrying out one of her past alleged violations.

Press reports, videos and photographs show a suspect who is apparently pleased at her feats, despite having spent jail time in the past on her convictions. Criminal defense counsel will likely have to look at insanity as a defense, especially with it appearing that the accused does not appreciate that she did something wrong. In Illinois, insanity is a defense to criminal charges. Generally, the insanity defense applies to exonerate an accused who did not and could not appreciate the difference between right and wrong when engaging in the proscribed activities.

Source: upi.com, “‘Serial stowaway’ arrested again after flying to London from Chicago“, Allen Cone, Jan. 20, 2018