The state of Colorado does not allow people like James Holmes to plead insanity all that easily. The state has some of the tougher laws against insanity pleas in the country.

In Colorado, a person who wants to plead insanity in defense of the crime must be proved to have been suffering from a genuine mental condition at the time that he committed the crime. Specifically, the defendant must be so defective in the mind that he is incapable of distinguishing from right or wrong at the time of commission of the crime. The use of illicit drugs, for example cannot be used to defend the crime. Under Colorado law, the defendant's lawyers must also prove that the defendant was not aware of the difference between right and wrong at the time he committed the crime.

That would be hard for Holmes' legal team to prove. It is going to be an extremely tough sell to prove that a person who picked up a gun and shot down 12 people in the span of a few minutes in a darkened movie theater, was not aware of the difference between right and wrong.

Insanity pleas used to be fairly easy to enter, but all that changed after the John Hinchey case in 1981. Hinckley shot at Pres. Ronald Reagan, and injured the president. Soon after that shooting, the federal law was changed to make it much tougher for defense lawyers to prove insanity. Lawyers who want to use the insanity plea have to provide convincing proof that the person who committed the crime was not in a position to understand that his conduct was wrong.