Juvenile Offender: Derek’s Case


Currently, there are limited indications that mental illness may independently predict criminal behaviour. Contrary to popular belief, abundant evidence indicates that people with mental illness are significantly more likely to be crime perpetrators. This report from a forensic evaluation is for Derek’s counsel and outlines his mental problem for use in his defence. This paper aims to demonstrate how Derek’s substance-related and addiction illnesses may have been mismanaged by the administration of diazepam without the essential attempts to regulate alcohol availability. As in the case study, research on the combined effects of diazepam and alcohol has shown a propensity to impair judgment, cognition, and motor function. According to the argument, Derek’s access to alcohol should have been regulated to prevent the impairment of judgment and thinking that may have led to the involuntary homicide.

Case Summary

In the case study, Derek, a twenty-year-old patient, is suspected of second-degree murder for murdering Yvonne, a twenty-one-year-old woman, one year ago. He was admitted to a state forensic facility for additional examination and treatment while awaiting trial. Based on growth history, teachers and parents admit noticing excessive hostility, distractibility, and a lack of attention in Derek’s behaviour throughout Derek’s youth. The loss of his maternal grandpa at the age of thirteen is indicative of trauma. According to Derek’s parents, there was a significant deal of emotional turmoil at home, who often submitted him to the Nelson Treatment Centre for evaluation. Before the murder, Derek was treated at the emergency department, where he was administered diazepam. Consequently, Derek spent the night before the murder at a party at a friend’s home, where he consumed vodka.

Possible Case of Mental Health Mismanagement

There is a high likelihood that when he fatally stabbed the deceased, Derek might have been in a dissociative state due to potential drug usage and subsequent alcohol use. In criminology, such behaviour is seldom the consequence of an individual’s upbringing or brain status alone but rather a mix of several risk factors (Wylie & Rufino, 2018). There are compelling arguments demonstrating the links between mental illness and criminal behaviour. Based on Derek’s childhood experiences and behaviour, there are indications of a propensity for psychological anguish that may have led to excessive substance use, including marijuana, sex addiction, and alcohol.

Addiction to drugs is a disorder that affects the brain and behaviour and leads to the inability to manage the use of legal or illicit substances. Additionally, alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine are considered drugs (Silveira e al., 2019). DSM-5’s substance-related and addictive disorders area in psychology includes alcohol, caffeine, marijuana, hallucinogens, hypnotics, and other substances. Common indicators of mental illness include a decline in school attendance and performance, a propensity for problems such as fights, and drug abuse in physically risky settings such as while driving.

In Derek’s situation, behavioral distress meets the DSM-5 criteria for a substance-related or addiction illness. Derek suffers from marijuana addiction, sex addiction, and excessive alcohol use. This behavior may be linked to the propensity to bully other students and domestic violence (Silveira e al., 2019). Marijuana usage promotes aggression, paranoia, and personality changes that lead to violent conduct. Studies have demonstrated that alcohol and marijuana use increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior (Pogun & Rodopman Arman, 2021). Moreover, alcohol impairs the pre-frontal cortex, the brain region responsible for higher-order cognitive processes (Silveira e al., 2019). Like the DSM-5 diagnosis of substance-related and addictive illness symptoms, Derek is guilty of six crimes, including breaking, stealing a car without permission, and driving carelessly. Derek is experiencing psychological pain, which may have led to the senseless murder of a close friend.

Call for Justice for Derek’s

In Derek’s defence, the attorney should build a case for poorly controlled substance-related and addiction illnesses as a mental health condition. The patient may have been exposed to delusional illnesses due to diazepam prescription without instruction or follow-up about recommended practices. Alcohol consumption is affected by the use of diazepam without sufficient medical supervision (Avcu Meriç & Sönmez, 2022).

Medication followed by uncontrolled alcohol use may have compromised Derek’s judgment and reasoning, leading to the murder. During the interview, Derek shows regret, recognizing that the victim, Yvonne, was a close confidante with no malicious intent. In legal practice, remorse is often seen as a mitigating element, while its lack is viewed as an aggravating factor (Little, 2020). In addition, there is no indication of the planned murder of the victim.


Derek suffers from substance-related and addiction problems, which may have contributed significantly to the inadvertent murder of a close confidant by impairing his judgment, cognition, and motor control. Abuse of some substances, such as alcohol or prescription medicines, may result in chemical changes in the brain that increase susceptibility to addiction and mental illnesses. In this instance, Derek may have combined alcohol and diazepam to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms without recognizing the risks. The counsel for Derek should argue for leniency based on the possibility of substance-related and addiction illnesses exacerbated by the diazepam prescription without proper advice or follow-up on alcohol use while under medication.


Avcu Meriç, I., & Sönmez, M. B. (2022). Decision-making, interoceptive awareness and mindful attention awareness in male patients with alcohol use disorder. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 27(1), 35-48. Web.

Little, J. (2020). A mystery haunting us all: Historicizing media cultural explanations of family violence through Australia’s Jaidyn Leskie child murder case. Hecate, 45(1/2), 209-230. Web.

Pogun, S., & Rodopman Arman, A. (2021). Understanding nicotine addiction and the health effects of nicotine use. ERS Monograph: Supporting Tobacco Cessation. European Respiratory Society, 2(1), 18-32.

Silveira, M. L., Green, V. R., Iannaccone, R., Kimmel, H. L., & Conway, K. P. (2019). Patterns and correlates of polysubstance use among US youth aged 15–17 years: wave 1 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. Addiction, 114(5), 907–916. Web.

Wylie, L. E., & Rufino, K. A. (2018). The impact of victimization and mental health symptoms on recidivism for early system-involved juvenile offenders. Law and Human Behavior, 42(6), 558. Web.

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Work Cited

"Juvenile Offender: Derek's Case." LawBirdie, 15 Nov. 2023, lawbirdie.com/juvenile-offender-dereks-case/.


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Juvenile Offender: Derek's Case'. 15 November.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Juvenile Offender: Derek's Case." November 15, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/juvenile-offender-dereks-case/.

1. LawBirdie. "Juvenile Offender: Derek's Case." November 15, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/juvenile-offender-dereks-case/.


LawBirdie. "Juvenile Offender: Derek's Case." November 15, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/juvenile-offender-dereks-case/.