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diminished capacity n1 : an abnormal mental condition that renders a person unable to form the specific intent necessary for the commission of a crime (as first-degree murder) but that does not amount to insanity called also diminished responsibility partial insanity compare insanity, irresistible impulse test, m'naghten test, substantial capacity test
2 a : a defense based on a claim of diminished capacity
b : the doctrine that diminished capacity may negate an element of a crime NOTE: If diminished capacity is shown, negating an element of the crime with which a defendant is charged, the defendant can only be convicted of a lesser offense that does not include the element.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.