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. Missouri, Pate 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,
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Video’s & Reference Material
- mock competency assessment
- Marcus Musante Esq., a former Los Angeles D.A. – now criminal defense lawyer – explains California law re competency to stand trial. Penal Code 1368 declares that a defendant is not competent for trial if he is unable to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings OR he is unable to assist his lawyer in a rational manner.
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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
FORENSIC MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN CRIMINAL LAW: STATUTE & CASE SUMMARIES, Joseph A. Ragazzo, Esq.
Evaluating Criminal Defendants INQUIRY INTO THE COMPETENCE OF THE DEFENDANT BEFORE TRIAL OR AFTER CONVICTION
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
Mental State required for conviction – Findlaw
730 Evidence and 952? Penal. Is incompetence the same as not guilty by reason of insanity? PC 1027. leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/l
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
- Presumption of sanity and burden of proof
- Disease of the mind
- Nature and quality of the act
- Knowledge that the act was wrong
Most mentally ill patients are not being diverted to treatment in San Diego KPBS *
New Bills for CA Prisoner Mental Health SacBee.com 10.1.2014
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