The Matrix defense

The Matrix defense is the term applied to several legal cases of a defense based on the Matrix films where reality is a computer generation—simulism—and that the real world is quite different from what reality is perceived to be.

In using this defense, the defendant claims that they committed a crime because they believed they were in the Matrix, and not in the real world. Using this defense, a defendant can allege they never intended death for their victim because they believed the victim to be alive in the other reality. This is a version of the insanity defense and considered a descendant of the Taxi Driver defense of John Hinckley, one of the first defenses based on blurring reality with films.[1]

Regardless of whether the defendant believes that they were living inside the Matrix, this defense has been used successfully to put users inside of mental-care facilities instead of prisons:

  • Tonda Lynn Ansley of Hamilton, Ohio, was found not guilty by reason of insanity using this defense after shooting her landlady in the head in July 2002.[2]
  • Vadim Mieseges of San Francisco offered a Matrix explanation to police after chopping up his landlady, and was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.[2]
  • Joshua Cooke's lawyers were going to attempt this defense in 2003 in his trial for the murder of his adoptive parents, before he pleaded guilty.[2]
  • The case of Lee Malvo also included references to The Matrix, mentioned in the writings taken from his jail cell; he reportedly shouted, "Free yourself from the Matrix," from his cell after his arrest, and told FBI agents to watch the film if they wanted to understand him.[2][3][4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bean, Matt (May 21, 2003). "'Matrix' Makes Its Way into Courtrooms as Defense Strategy". CNN. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Schone, Mark (November 9, 2003). "The Matrix Defense". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  3. ^ "Profile: Lee Boyd Malvo". BBC. October 10, 2003. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  4. ^ Chalmers, Phil (2009). Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-59555-152-8.