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criminal competencies__08

criminal competencies__08 - 1 Criminal Competencies June 4...

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1 1 Criminal Competencies Criminal Competencies June 4, 2008 2 Criminal Competencies ± Competency evaluations very common (60,000/year) ± The most important psychological input in criminal cases ± Capacity/competency is ambiguous ± Competency is dependent upon the facts of the case 3 Purposes of Competency Doctrine Purposes of Competency Doctrine ± to maintain fairness in the legal system ± threatened when mental incapacities reduce ability to meet demands of defendant’s role ± to insure accuracy of trial’s results ± defendant must recognize relevance of certain information that would be important for the court to hear in order to reach a “correct” verdict 4 Ways in which demands of trials vary Ways in which demands of trials vary ± complexity and multiplicity of charges facing defendant . Are charges being tried separately? ± events associated with alleged offense . Were accomplices involved (who might have different stories)? ± range of possible penalties for this alleged offense . Does the offense allow for one fixed penalty, minimum-maximum, life, death? ± range of types of evidence available to counsel without defendant’s cooperation . Were witnesses present? Will physical evidence make it easy to raise reasonable doubt? ± simple or complex legal defenses available? Will a lot of witnesses or evidence be presented? 5 Sources of Legal Rules for Competency Sources of Legal Rules for Competency ± state statutes ± offer definitions of “incompetency” and rules defining the legal process one must go through in order to address the issue ± case law ± appellate rulings on disputes concerning interpretation of law ± administrative law 6 Dusky v. United States Dusky v. United States ± “The test must be whether [the defendant] has sufficient present ability to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him ± If present, the incapacity must be a product of a “mental disease or defect” or “mental disorder” 7 Legal Process for Competency Legal Process for Competency ± Raising the issue (anyone can raise, so should not assume “probably incompetent”) ± Evaluation (most states recognize psychologists, psychiatrists, and other qualified MHP’s) ± Hearing (procedures vary) ± Disposition (next step depends on findings) ± Remediation/Re-Evaluation 8 Legal Competency is NOT: Legal Competency is NOT: ± ‘mental illness’
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2 ± can be ‘mentally ill or defective’ but not incompetent, though the opposite is not true ± need for treatment ± goal of treatment is to restore competency ± criminal responsibility ± distinction between competency and MSO ± result of competency evaluation ± results are open to challenge 9 10 Objectives of Competency Evaluations Objectives of Competency Evaluations
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