Criminal Mischief

What is the Twinkie Defense?

Novel defense strategies are important tools for defense attorneys everywhere. The Twinkie defense, for example, stands alone. While its silly name may be distracting, the Twinkie defense actually has some merit when it comes to criminal defendants who’re burdened with mental illness.

Sebastian Pichler photo twinkie defense
Photo by Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash

Origins of the Twinkie Defense

The Twinkie defense was originally implemented in a murder case in the 1970s. The defense provided evidence that the accused was both mentally ill and depressed at the time of the murder and that the defendant’s symptoms were significantly exacerbated by his junk food diet. While the defendant’s primary defense was diminished capacity, the add-on Twinkie defense was contributive to the defendant’s already existing mental health concerns. In the end, the defendant was convicted on the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter – rather than on the charge of murder. It seems that the Twinkie defense is odd but probably isn’t without some legal merit.

Variations on a Theme

The Twinkie defense is singular, but that hasn’t precluded it from spawning an avalanche of similar defenses. Cough syrup, for example, is a particular favorite. In fact, several defendants in murder cases have proclaimed that their ingestion of cough medicine caused them to black out and commit crimes that they have no memory of being involved in. Further, there are spinoff defenses that involve such exigencies as extreme caffeine usage and MSG overload.

While there may be some validity to all these claims, it’s extremely important to recognize that such cases inevitably incorporate a claim of underlying mental health issues that existed independently of any so-called Twinkie defense. In other words, this defense is more of an augmentative defense than a primary defense. In the end, the Twinkie defense provides those defendants with mental health issues an opportunity to highlight those circumstances that have exacerbated their propensity to engage in criminal conduct.

Fact Sensitivity

This defense obviously relates only to those fact-sensitive cases that involve defendants with underlying issues of diminished capacity. Further, the successful assertion of a Twinkie defense necessitates credible expert testimony. All told, the Twinkie defense is weird – but shouldn’t be discounted for cases that are similarly weird.

If You’re Looking at Criminal Charges in New Jersey, Call (833) 732-7320 for a Free Consultation Today

If you’re looking at criminal charges in New Jersey, it’s in your best interest to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Your rights are too important to leave to chance, so please allow the Law Offices of Leon Matchin to aggressively advocate in your defense by contacting or calling us at (833) 732-7320 today.

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