Evaluators are further advised to obtain all evidence being offered and the dispositional alternatives that are being considered for the defendant. Because there are a variety of reasons why a person could have dubious competency to stand trial, the retaining attorney or judge should specify the basis for the forensic psychiatric expert referral. She is viewing the situation through a psychotic process. 1994;18:437-452. These evaluations are court-ordered the majority of the time and may take place in numerous locations such as jails, community-based outpatient centers, or mental health centers (Vitacco, Rogers, Gabel & Munizza, 2007). Competency to stand trial (CST) is a doctrine of jurisprudence that allows for the postponement of criminal proceedings should a defendant be unable to participate in his or her defense on account of mental disorder or intellectual disability. Insanity Defense Competency To Stand Trial … (1996). 6. There has been a surge in CST evaluation requests in recent years, with current estimates of 160,000 or more evaluation requests annually.2,3 This increase may be due to the criminalization of mental illness, substance abuse, and intellectual disability, all of which often stem from the lack of adequate access to civil treatment in the community. Competency to Stand Trial A person can only be deemed not competent to stand trial after an evaluation by a forensic psychologist. Gowensmith WN, Frost LE, Speelman DW, et al. Depending on the jurisdiction, Competency to Stand Trial may also be referred to as Competence To Stand Trial, Competence To Proceed, or … To illustrate how critical the clinical evaluation is in CST evaluations, and that a clinical evaluation cannot be replaced by a competency assessment instrument, consider the following case. To meet this requirement, Federal and State case law imposes responsibility on trial judges to ensure a defendant’s competency if presented with evidence that calls this ability into question. This title provides a review of the most fundamental concepts and methods for performing these evaluations. The following people may raise the incompetency issue: CST evaluations assess basic cognitive processes in relation to the defendant’s present psycholegal abilities such as understanding relevant information, appreciating the situation and its consequences, the ability to use logical thinking and reasoning, being motivated to assist counsel, and the ability to effectively formulate as well as communicate decisions (Murrie & Zelle, 2015). Police reports, medical records from jail, prior competency evaluations, and information shared by the lawyer are some of the data that are an integral part of the competency evaluation although they are not included in typical psychiatric evaluations. Amanda plans to continue her studies in a doctoral program after completion of her master’s degree. In the above scenario, the defendant was disorganized during the time of arrest, but by the time the CST evaluation was ordered, he was back on medications and was overall functioning well. Defense attorneys have concerns regarding their client’s competency in about 8% to 15% of felony prosecutions, and it is estimated that about 20% to 30% of evaluated defendants are found incompetent to stand trial.1 If a judge determines a defendant is CST, the legal case proceeds. Plus, as a result of years of experience in the court system, Tony also has a good handle on the trial process. Evaluators should be aware of the aspects of practice within the evaluating jurisdiction and be thoroughly acquainted with the legal literature to provide the most thorough evaluation. 7. In D. B. Wexler & B. J. Winick (Eds. © 2021 MJH Life Sciences and Psychiatric Times. Taylor & Francis; 2017. In B. L. Cutler, P. A. Zapf, B. L. Cutler, P. A. Zapf (Eds.). Historically, competency was equated with psychosis; however, research has since provided evidence that the presence of psychosis itself is not sufficient for a defendant to be adjudicated incompetent (Zapf et al., 2014). At that point, if a second evaluation were ordered, he would likely be found IST and remanded for CR services. Therefore, while the law student has a factual understanding of the case (such as case travel, various pleas, etc), the law student’s ability to apply the information to her own case would be impaired, as she does not have a rational understanding of the situation. Competency to stand trial is generally determined via a pretrial evaluation of the defendant's overall mental status and mental state at the time of the examination. She served on National Judicial College’s Mental Competency—Best Practices Model panel of experts and travels throughout the United States and internationally to train legal and mental health professionals on best practices in forensic evaluation. Once detained, he is restarted on treatment. CST is a present tense evaluation, meaning it is an evaluation that determines the current mental state of the defendant, conducted after the alleged criminal incident has occurred. Approximately 60,000 defendants are evaluated for trial competency annually, making this the most common forensic issue evaluated (Morris & DeYoung, 2012; Pirelli, Gottdiener, & Zapf, 2011). What does the population of individuals look like who undergo these evaluations? Winick, B. J. defendant’s competency to stand trial, to evaluate likelihood defendant will be restored to 1 . Competent to Stand Trial Law and Legal Definition Due process requires that a defendant be competent to stand trial, which includes capacity to assist counsel and to understand the nature of the proceeding sufficiently to participate in and make decisions about rights afforded to defendants. Nonetheless, a defendant with schizophrenia can be competent and, similarly, a defendant with intellectual disability can be competent. He tells you that he is interested in accepting a deal, because it will allow him to avoid going to jail. Competency to stand trial is a long-established legal principle in the U.S. criminal justice system that ensures that a criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial is protected. Winick, B. J. The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law estimates that competency evaluations in the U.S. number about 50,000 to 60,000 annually. The term competence restoration (CR) is used to describe the treatment and education process used to transform the defendants classified as IST to CST (Table 1).1, CST, therefore, is a legal decision made by a judge that determines if a criminal defendant is able to proceed with the legal process. Competency to stand trial is the most common type of criminal forensic evaluation, with approximately 60,000 evaluations conducted annually in the United States. A defendant’s mental disorder must interfere with relevant, functional abilities in such a way that he or she is left unable to effectively participate in the trial proceedings in order to be opined IST. To understand the proceedings, a defendant must be able to comprehend the charges against him and the penalties if convicted. Multiple evaluators could agree that the presence of psycho… Dusky v United States. Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402 (1960), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court affirmed a defendant's right to have a competency evaluation before proceeding to trial. When defendants are IST, the CST-CR system often cannot keep up with demand. The most common variables that have been identified as correlates with competency status are ethnicity, sex, employment, marital status, type of current criminal charge, criminal history, and history of psychiatric hospitalization. Section 15: Competence to stand trial or criminal responsibility; examination; period of observation; reports; hearing; commitment; delinquents Section 15. When the court determines an individual is incompetent to stand trial, the law dictates that the individual can’t be … This includes assessing an understanding of the charges and their potential consequences, an understanding of the trial process, knowledge about the various participants in a trial, and whether the defendant has the ability to help in their own defense and make decisions about their case.7,8. Defendants who are deemed IST are more likely to have previous psychiatric hospitalizations and current diagnoses on the psychotic spectrum than defendants found CST (Pirelli et al., 2011). J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. He has never served time, as he always managed to get probation. 8. SPECIAL REPORT: FORENSIC PSYCHIATRY, PART II, The United States legal system has long recognized that criminal defendants must be competent to stand trial (CST) prior to proceeding with the legal process to allow for fairness for the accused and protect the integrity of the justice system. Competency to Stand Trial A defendant cannot be convicted of a crime if they are not mentally competent to stand trial. Competency to stand trial. Psychiatr Serv. Accessed September 1, 2020. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018. Zapf, P. A., & Roesch, R. (2009). Zapf, P. A., Roesch, R., & Pirelli, G. (2014). But across the country, this process has become increasingly overburdened and delayed, causing people to languish in jail while states contend with the high associated costs. Multiple evaluators could agree that the presence of psychosis automatically signifies that a defendant is incompetent, yet previous research has underscored that this is an invalid conclusion (Zapf et al., 2014). AAPL practice resource for the forensic psychiatric evaluation of competence to stand trial. The low base rate of defendants adjudicated IST has been highlighted in defining the standards of practice in the competency arena (Pirelli, Gottdiener, & Zapf, 2011). Some examples include the Competency Assessment Instrument (CAI), the Georgia Court Competence Test (GCCT), and the Competence Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with Mental Retardation (CAST-MR).8. Therefore, he was first recommended as CST. Prior to 1960, there was not a standardized method for assessing competency. Research indicates that forensic evaluators show high levels of agreement on the ultimate issue of a defendant’s competence; however, high levels of reliability do not ensure that valid decisions are being made. Dr. Zapf is the author of Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment: Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial; editor of Forensic Assessments in Criminal and Civil Law: A Handbook for Lawyers; and Editor-in-Chief of the recently published APA Handbook of Forensic Psychology. Pathways provides programs and services benefiting individuals impacted by mental illness and addictions. 281-314). Chauhan, P., Warren, J., Kois, L., & Wellbeloved-Stone, J. She is well versed in the requirements that are needed for involuntary medication, and she insists on cross examining the psychiatrist, despite the judge advising her to defer to her attorney. On a particularly bad day, Jodi calls the police for backup, as she believes that people are walking around downtown with bombs in backpacks. Issues of competency may be raised at any point during the proceedings and, if a bona fide doubt exists regarding competency, the issue must be formally considered, thus requiring a forensic evaluation. Competency means that an accused must understand the nature of the court process. In I. If a defendant is found to be competent to stand trial, then the criminal proceedings will move forward. Fall 2019. However, in undergoing a thorough CST evaluation, the evaluator would realize that the defendant is paranoid and likely unable to assist in her own defense despite having a strong factual base of knowledge. In addition to assessing the defendant’s psychiatric, medical, and social histories, the defendant’s competence as it relates to trial-related tasks is evaluated. All rights reserved. However, it is expected that the evaluator will use his or her clinical judgment based upon the defendant’s presentation in determining how to conduct the evaluation. However, once he stopped taking his medications in jail, he became psychotic, refused to work collaboratively with his attorney, and believed the legal system was conspiring against him. 2020;71(7):691-697. If the judge determines a defendant is IST, the CR process begins, typically in the form of both treatment of the defendant’s mental illness and competency education (Figure). Competency to stand trial is legally unrelated to the defendant’s mental state at the time of the alleged crime. Research indicates that forensic evaluators show high levels of agreement on the ultimate issue of a defendant’s competence; however, high levels of reliability do not ensure that valid decisions are being made. The aim of this review was to determine which variables were associated with a defendant’s competency to stand trial. Terms and Conditions, American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies, Forensic Mental Health from Concordia University. In contrast, a criminal responsibility evaluation determines the mental state of the defendant at certain point in the past, specifically at the time of the alleged criminal incident. If someone is competent to stand trial, it means that he or she understands the purpose and nature of the proceedings and can assist the defense. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. Competency to Stand Trial * Assessment Template This template is designed to be used as a template for completing an evaluation of a . Competency to Stand Trial or Fitness to Stand Trial requires that a defendant understands the nature and purpose of the legal proceedings against him and be able to effectively cooperate with counsel in his defense. Mental status and formal psychiatric diagnoses are important competency considerations but, independent from the facts of the legal case, they are not sufficient for rendering an opinion regarding competence (Zapf et al., 2014). Tony further explains he would prefer to admit to some form of guilt to be quickly paroled so that he can see his newborn child. , from screening tools to elaborate guides for conducting such an evaluation of competence to stand trial for criminal. Pathways provides programs and services benefiting individuals impacted by mental illness Behind Bars it is also a clinical at... 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