Competency to Stand Trial
Competency to Stand Trial or Fitness to Stand Trial requires that a defendant understands the nature and purpose of the legal proceedings against him/her and be able to effectively cooperate with counsel in their defense. To understand the proceedings, a defendant must be able to comprehend the charges against them and the penalties if convicted. The defendant must also have some level of understanding of courtroom procedure and the functions of those who participate in it. To cooperate with counsel, the defendant must be able to plan a legal strategy, be able to recall and relate pertinent facts and events, including their motives and actions at the time of the offense, and be able to testify in their behalf and to challenge prosecution witnesses.
Dr. Kristina Vincent’s function in Competency to Stand Trial cases is to determine whether or not a mental disorder, defect, or impairment precludes this understanding and cooperation. Psychological testing is given in competency to stand trial cases on an as needed basis, and psychological testing of malingering is often indicated.
Dr. Vincent submits a written forensic psychological evaluation report addressing Competency to Stand Trial or Fitness to Stand Trial, which includes:
The underlying bases for any diagnoses (mental disability or impairment);
A description of mental disability or impairment, if any, and the severity of any disability, defect or impairment;
An opinion on whether and to what extent the mental disability, defect or impairment impairs the defendant’s ability to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him and/or to assist in his defense.
The issues of potential malingering (exaggerating or feigning symptoms of mental disability/impairment/disorder) will be evaluated.
If it was opined that a person was incompetent to stand trial, the potential for restoration to competency will be addressed. Expert testimony is also provided when necessary in competency to stand trial cases.