Although it is expected by society that adults follow the law and know the difference between right and wrong, sometimes they are unable to make that distinction. Some adults may have had to quit school at a young age in order to work and support their families and therefore their reading and comprehension skills may be limited. One Wisconsin man was recently accused of Social Security fraud, but was found not guilty after it was determined that the man had limited mental capacity.
The 67-year-old man was one of three people who cashed in his late mother's Social Security checks. He, a brother-in-law, and a sister were allegedly cashing the checks - which totaled $175,000 - for as many as 30 years.
The Social Security Administration tried to contact the woman to see if she was still alive, but to no avail. Letters were sent until finally the man said she wasn't available. Authorities obtained a search warrant, but they still had no evidence to determine if the woman was dead or alive.
Authorities charged the man, 70-year-old sister and 72-year-old brother-in-law with fraud. However, the man and his sister were both found not guilty because they suffer from mental issues. The man said he has a first-grade education and did not understand that he was breaking the law. The brother-in-law faces four felony fraud charges.
Those who plead not guilty to a crime for mental reasons must undergo psychological testing to determine that they are mentally unfit. If they are deemed mentally ill, they likely won't face any penalties for the crime and could be found not guilty. This plea is only used in 1 percent of court cases and even then it is successful only about a quarter of the time.
Source: La Crosse Tribune, "Wis. man not guilty in Social Security fraud case" No author given, Dec. 31, 2013