The effects of a traumatic brain injury are sometimes obvious. The personality of the injured person changes substantially; the ability to make decisions suffers dramatically; they can no longer communicate effectively; or they lose some control over their body movements, for example. Yet, in many other cases, the effects are not so obvious, and the person can go the rest of their life being completely unaware of the impairment that still has an impact on how they behave, how they think, and how they form judgments. If you have ever suffered a traumatic brain injury, and if you are not facing criminal charges, especially if this is not your first time in the criminal justice system, then you just might be dealing with these the TBI impairments.
There have been many scientific studies and research initiatives that show a direct link between traumatic brain injuries and criminal behaviors, revealing that much more people in jails and prisons suffer from traumatic brain injury than do those in the general population. These studies further show that people who suffer from TBI are far more likely to abuse alcohol and to use illegal drugs or abuse prescription medications. These individuals are furthermore likely than the general population to respond inappropriately to their feelings, to be more prone to feelings of rage, and then to be more likely to act on those feelings in a violent manner.
Beyond this, someone with a TBI could be much more easily led by others into taking part in a crime, and may even become a victim and a criminal all at once. This is often the case when someone with impaired cognitive functioning is tricked into taking the blame for a crime that was committed by someone else, but was intentionally pinned on the TBI sufferer.
What If You Suffered From a Traumatic Brain Injury as a Child?
Many people have not thought about how childhood injuries might have impacted the development of the adult brain or how an injury could be influencing adult behaviors. The brain does not fully develop until around the age of 25 in most people that have not had traumatic brain injuries. The last parts of the brain to develop fully are those that are used for deductive reasoning, making decisions, and impulse control. Without these parts of the brain being fully developed, an adult who suffered a TBI as a child could struggle to use the necessary reasoning, decision-making skills, and impulse control that might prevent them from engaging in criminal behavior.
In children who experience traumatic brain injuries, brain development can be impaired or the development could never occur as it might have otherwise if the injury had not happened. While it is widely recognized that having a history of being abused as a child can be connected to future criminal behavior, not many people realize that this may go beyond learned behaviors and could also be connected with the fact that such abuse might have included injuries to the head and TBI.
How Prisons and Jails are Confronting the Concern of TBI in Inmates
Because research has shown that such a large portion of inmates in prisons and jails have symptoms of having suffered a traumatic brain injury in the past and that many can actually recall exactly when such an injury occurred (auto accident, playground accident, physical abuse, etc.), there are now programs in place in many of the institutions to screen, evaluate, and treat traumatic brain injury in convicted criminals. The goal of such treatment is to help TBI sufferers with the symptoms of their brain injury, ensuring that they are better able to make wise decisions, stop themselves from behaving impulsively, and learn to control and work with the various deficits, impulses, and emotions that can be affected by TBI. When successful, such treatment can be a preventative measure to stop criminals who suffer from TBI from reoffending and returning to prison or jail when they are released.
How Treatment for TBI Could Prevent Criminal Behavior in the First Place
In the best case scenario after a traumatic brain injury, you would be able to get the appropriate and necessary treatment to ensure that you have all of the tools and skills necessary to cope with the injury, overcome the injury, and prevent the injury from leading you into bad situations, drug or alcohol addiction, or criminal behavior. If you are already on a negative path, but have not yet been charged with any crimes (such as if you are a drug addict or have noticed yourself responding inappropriately to anger), you can seek treatment now and potentially prevent yourself from facing criminal charges in the future.
Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis Could Help Your Greenville, South Carolina Criminal Case
If you suspect that you may be suffering from the effects of a traumatic brain injury, no matter how recent or how far in the past it may be, and you are also facing criminal charges in Greenville, South Carolina, it is a good idea to seek a full evaluation of your cognitive, emotional, and overall psychological health. If you can prove that you have suffered from a TBI and that this is impacting your ability to make positive decisions and control your impulses, then this might be helpful in your criminal case. It is important to understand that you cannot use TBI as a criminal defense and you likely cannot use it as part of an insanity plea.
However, it can still be of use when it comes to reducing your charges or reducing the penalties associated with those charges. In the same way that you cannot use your age as a defense, if you are being charged as an adult, but your age could still be relevant in the outcome of your case, TBI cannot be used as a defense, but it could still be relevant in the outcome of your case. To learn more about how traumatic brain injury could affect your criminal defense in Greenville, South Carolina, contact Lauren Taylor Law to schedule a free consultation.