As criminal defense lawyers we are privy to our clients' psycho-social histories in a way that others in the system are not. We have a responsibility to educate judges and juries about the relevance of traumatic events to the formationof specific intent, and to the significance of PTSD as a factor in mitigation at sentencing. We do much more for our clients if we can bring this information to light early on, as part of our representation of first-time offenders. While the PTSD defense has been employed almost exclusively in homicide cases, we must not hold this defense in reserve until a client's mental state has degenerated to the point where they face the most serious crime. This article is written to help defense lawyers focus on this most critical defense early enough in our clients' lives to offer them real help.
20 CACJ Forum 36 (Dec. 1993)