Darren Kavinoky weighs in with his legal analysis on the shocking case of wife’s attempted murder that the husband says was prompted by a dream. In Pennsylvania, an ABC News reports that a man woke up from a dream he had about his wife cheating on him and attempted to choke his wife. According to reports, the man even attacked his daughter when the daughter tried to help her mother. ABC News reports, “Archibald police say 49-year-old Conrad Rudalavage had been drinking before he fell asleep, then woke up Saturday convinced that his wife was unfaithful.” The wife was treated for her injuries according to the report and Rudalvage was arrested for attempted homicide amongst other charges. 
Legal Analysis by Attorney Darren Kavinoky
There are many different ways that the mental health or mental condition of the criminal defendant can come into play in a criminal prosecution. The most well-known is the plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which, contrary to public perception, is used in less than one percent of criminal cases, and is successful only about a quarter of the time. The standard there is very high, basically that at the time of the alleged criminal act, because of mental disease or defect, that the defendant didn’t appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct. An example of this is something as simple as I think I’m handing you a banana, but really I’m stabbing you to death.
There is a separate but related issue around the defendant’s competency to stand trial. That doesn’t relate to the condition of the accused at the time of the alleged crime but instead, focuses on whether the defendant is able to understand the nature of the proceedings and provide meaningful assistance to their criminal defense attorney. If this is the case, the answer is typically a postponement of the proceedings until competency can be restored.
That’s ‘business as usual’ and results in a criminal recidivism rate that sees two-thirds of people who’ve spent time behind bars go back there.Click to tweet
In the case of the Pennsylvania man who attacked his wife after a dream that she was cheating on him, it appears that the story offered by the man accused does little to help his cause; instead, he is simply providing his motive for the attack. Similarly, since dream was reportedly brought on by the voluntary consumption of alcohol, he doesn’t appear to be incompetent to stand trial.
This case stands as yet one more reminder that the right to remain silent guaranteed in the Constitution does you know good unless you exercise it by keeping your mouth shut! As a practicing criminal defense lawyer for more than two decades, I can tell you from bitter experience that nearly every time someone tries to talk their way out of trouble by explaining circumstances to law enforcement, they only offer up missing pieces that the prosecution needed (and may not have had otherwise), or find some other way to talk themselves into still deeper trouble.
On a much more personal level, based on what’s been reported, we have yet one more crime that appears to be driven by alcohol consumption, even though the charges this man will likely face – assault, battery, possibly even attempted murder – don’t appear on the face to be alcohol, drug, or addiction related. That is the bigger missing piece of the criminal justice system in my experience: a lack of prioritizing the identification of crime driven by treatable mental health issues (like alcoholism or drug addiction) and instead merely focusing on punishment. That’s ‘business as usual’ and results in a criminal recidivism rate that sees two-thirds of people who’ve spent time behind bars go back there. Until we face up to the facts and admit we’ve not produced the results we want and are willing to look at this issue with fresh eyes, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting. And I don’t think people want that anymore.
1. AP. January 19, 2017. ABC News. “Police: Man Assaulted Wife After Dream That She Was Cheating.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/police-man-assaulted-wife-dream-cheating-44883643.