When arguing that a criminal defendant is not competent, the defense counsel has an uphill battle. The standards for competency in the State of Michigan are harsh, and many times criminal defendants in need will be deemed competent despite having issues of mental capacity that are often overlooked. One disease that will not deem a defendant incompetent but will help with an argument to mitigate a crime is “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.”
“Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” is known in the medical profession as Kleine–Levin syndrome (KLS). KLS is a rare sleep disorder characterized by persistent episodic hypersomnia and cognitive or mood changes. Many patients also experience hyperphagia, hypersexuality, and other symptoms. Patients generally experience recurrent episodes of the condition for more than a decade and may return at a later age. Individual events last typically more than a week, sometimes lasting for months. The disease significantly affects the personal, professional, and social lives of sufferers. The severity of symptoms and the course of the syndrome vary between sufferers. Patients commonly have about 20 episodes over about a decade. Several months generally elapse between events.
Patients with Kleine–Levin syndrome (KLS) experience recurring events of prolonged sleep (hypersomnia). In most cases, patients sleep 15 to 21 hours a day during events. Excessive appetite (hyperphagia) and unusual cravings are present in half to two-thirds of cases. About half of patients, mainly male patients, experience dramatically increased sexual urges (hypersexuality). Several other symptoms usually accompany the syndrome, including marked changes in mood and cognitive ability. Derealization and severe apathy are present in at least 80 percent of cases. About one-third of patients experience hallucinations or delusions. Depression and anxiety occur less commonly; one study found them in about 25 percent of patients. Individuals usually cannot remember what happened during episodes. Repetitive behaviors and headaches are widely reported. Some patients act very childlike during incidents, and communication skills and coordination sometimes suffer. To gain further insight into this issue, we spoke to several of the top lawyers in the State of Michigan.