Competency to stand trial?

It is well established matter of Constitutional law that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the criminal prosecution of a defendant who is not competent to stand trial. Drope v. MissouriPate v. Robinson, .

A defendant is presumed competent to stand trial unless his mental condition prevents him from understanding the nature and object of the proceedings against him, or the court determines that he is unable to assist in his defense. See Dusky v. United States,

test for competency to stand trial is whether the defendant “has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding–and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.“.

may be incompetent to stand trial or is not criminally responsible by reason of mental illness, mental retardation or addiction,

Questions to raise about the psychologist/psychiatrist testimony:

1) what is the basis for the testimony?

2) contemporaneous interview or encounter with the defendant during the course of treatment or institutionalization?

3) if the testimony is based on a contemporaneous interview, where did the interview take place? how long did the interview last? was more than one interview conducted? who was present during the interview(s)? were verbatim notes taken during the interview?

4) was the interview conducted by a psychologist or a psychiatrist, or by some other professionally trained mental health worker?

5) did the psychiatrist/psychologist have prior forensic experience? is s/he qualified as a forensic psychiatrist or a forensic psychologist? (here you’ll need to know something about certifications, which professional organizations offer them, and the criteria by which they are acquired),

(6) what psychological tests were administered? was the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA) administered? (before raising this question you will need to know that this test is, what it purports to measure; indeed, it helps when raising issues about a psychological test to have a copy of the test, to which you can refer)

An accused person, may have been sane at the time of the acts charged, and still be incompetent to stand trial

The test for competence to stand trial and competency to plead guilty are the same, and the statutory provisions which apply to determinations of competence to stand trial are held to apply equally to competence to plead guilty. State v. Cheshire,

We are NOT attorneys, please contact yours or follow the links and contact the attorney who wrote the article.

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Resources, Related pages  & Links

Be sure to follow the footnotes, brochures & pamphlets above

Los Angeles County Supervisors to investigate surge in Competency Cases   LA Times 3.9.2016

Long Waits to get Mental Health Treatment  Tribune San Luis Obispo 6.9.2015 –  Los Angeles Times 4.1.2015


NAMI Guide to Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System



California Penal Code §1367-1376

Competency To Stand Trial: Summaries of Successful Cases  Sorry, they changed their website around – use their search engine

Capital Defense Network (supporting capital defense lawyers)

Competency Evaluations  Dr. Donald J. Franklin, Psychology Online

Competence to Stand Trial – 4 pages

Adjudicative Competence in Juveniles: Legal and Clinical Issues

CA to build more prison mental health units

Mental State required for conviction – Findlaw

730 Evidence and 952? Penal.     Is incompetence the same as not guilty by reason of insanity?  PC 1027.

Medina v. California an incompetent criminal defendant should not be required to stand trial has deep roots in this country’s common law heritage.

The Consensus Project Report, reflects the results of a series of meetings among 100 of the most respected criminal justice and mental health practitioners in the country.

Memorandum of Agreement Between the United States and Los Angeles County, California Regarding Mental Health Services at the Los Angeles County Jail


Mental Health Resources

Health Care Reform – Mental Health as a Minimum Essential Benefit

The McNaughton Rules Wikipedia

Most mentally ill patients are not being diverted to treatment in San Diego KPBS *

New Bills for CA Prisoner Mental Health 10.1.2014


Help for Drug Abuse

Involuntary Committment

NAMI Guide to Mental Illness & the Criminal Justice System

disability rights

Forensic Mental Health Issues 122 pages –




12 Step & Therapist Privelege can what you tell them be used against you?




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