In the case of a person who is charged with an indictable offence, and who is alleged to be insane, the first question that presents itself for consideration is whether such accused person is, or is not, in a fit mental condition to be called upon to plead to the indictment, and to take his trial; for, according to the common law of England, as stated by Blackstone, in his Commentaries (Book 4, Chap. II): “If a man in his sound memory commits a capital offence, and before arraignment for it, he becomes mad, he ought not to be arraigned for it; because he is not able to plead to it with that advice and caution that he ought.” and this general principle of the common law was set out more fully in a statute passed in the year 1800 (39 and 40 Geo. III., cap. 94), by which it was enacted that “If any person indicted for any offence shall be insane, and shall, upon arraignment, be found so to be by a jury lawfully impanelled for that purpose, so that such person cannot be tried upon such indictment,” … “it shall be lawful for the Court before whom any such person shall be brought to be arraigned, or tried as aforesaid, to direct such finding to be recorded, and thereupon to order such person to be kept in strict custody until His Majesty's pleasure shall be known.”
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