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Could early lead exposure explain violent criminal acts?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Lead has played a role in various industries for centuries. People have used it in everything from plumbing to medicine. However, modern medical science has established the clear dangers caused by lead. 

Lead exposure early in life has a known association with decreased cognitive capacity and an increased predilection toward violent or impulsive behavior. If you have undergone medical testing that has shown you were a victim of childhood lead poisoning, might that help you as you try to defend against accusations of a violent criminal offense? 

Lead exposure can complicate criminal justice matters

Lead exposure in childhood has a strong association with adult incarceration for criminal matters. The more serious the lead exposure, the greater the potential for criminal or violent behavior later in life. 

Although there is medical research showing that childhood-led exposure may increase someone’s likelihood of violent actions and criminal prosecution later in life, someone accused of assault or another violent offense can’t completely absolve themselves of responsibility solely by discussing their lead exposure earlier in life. In some scenarios, such as when you want to raise a self-defense claim, the effects of lead on your cognitive abilities could be part of your defense strategy. 

Many criminal defendants prefer to pursue defense strategies that don’t affirm they broke the law but raise a question as to their involvement in a criminal act. Any defense involving lead exposure would likely be an affirmative defense asserting that you did something illegal but that circumstances change the legality of your actions. 

Considering different options for defense against violent criminal charges can improve your chances of success.