In many cases every year, defendants are unsure of why they received specific charges and fail to communicate with their attorneys. Sometimes this is due to an underlying mental disease or mental defect, which means that they are not competent to stand trial. However, even though these defendants have rights, there are many things that you should understand about the competency process and what this means for your case. Here, we will answer some of your most important questions concerning the competency process and how to prove that you are incompetent to stand trial with the help of your attorney.
What is involved in the competency process? The process is primarily based on state law and is of use by the courts. In many of these cases, they will begin when the judge or prosecutor raises a doubt about the defendant’s competency. An evaluation will be ordered and an examiner will evaluate the defendant. When the findings are presented to the court, the judge will make a ruling on the competency and determine whether or not they can stand trial. However, if you are found to be incompetent, this is not to be taken lightly. You will be sent to a psychiatric facility until you are found to be competent.
How is evidence of incompetency usually determined? The defendant may act irrationally, have questionable conduct at trial, or perhaps there is a prior medical opinion about the defendant’s competence to stand trial.
What can the judge do during this process? A judge will understand when somebody is suffering from a mental disorder. They will not move forward unless their ability to understand the proceedings has been determined in a court hearing. The judge also understands that, until the defendant is better and can stand trial, the trial does not have to occur and can be delayed.
Will the charges ever be dismissed in these cases? Sometimes. In some cases, it may be determined that the defendant will not be competent to stand trial anytime in the near future. When this happens, charges may be dismissed. They will then be committed to a psychiatric facility for further evaluation.
Is incompetency considered to be a defense? No. In fact, a defendant’s ability to stand trial is unrelated to the defendant’s mental state at the time that the crime actually took place. This means that the defendant’s mental state will only be evaluated based on what the judge or prosecutor witness during court, not based on the crime that initially landed them in court.
An Example of Incompetency
Let’s say that a man is in the middle of an argument with a neighbor and things become heated. The man then pulls a gun and shoots the neighbor in the chest, immediately killing him. Let’s suppose that the defendant had a mental disorder at the time of the shooting and could not tell right from wrong – in this case, he may be found incompetent to stand trial because he had a mental disorder at the time of the crime and during trial. However, once he has received enough treatment to determine what is happening, he will be competent. In this case, the trial can carry on.
Now that you understand incompetency, you have the ability to understand what happens when you have been deemed unfit to stand trial. Talk to your attorney about the possibility of representing you through this process and what you can do. Call us today for more information.