Competency to Stand Trial and Competency Restoration
Not every person accused of a crime will be able to stand trial. It is the responsibility of those involved in the case to ensure that the defendant is provided equal treatment and due process under the law; a feat which is unachievable if he or she is incompetent.
Incompetency in legal terms refers to one’s mental state, and having a criminal trial against a defendant who is mentally incapable of standing trial not only diminishes the dignity of legal proceedings but also violates the rights of the defendant. Prevent this from occurring to you or a loved one by securing legal counsel that will aggressively fight to protect your best interests.
The Orlando criminal defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm are here to ensure that your rights are upheld. We understand that the State will often look for ways to exploit defendants to get them to agree to an unfavorable plea deal or waive certain rights. Our team of attorneys is here to guide you through all legal proceedings and ensure that you get the proper evaluations and treatment in your criminal case.
Determining Competency to Stand Trial
The judge, prosecution, and the defendant’s attorney can request a court-ordered competency evaluation. However, the judge will have the final say in whether or not it is appropriate. Rule 3.211 of Florida’s Criminal Procedure explains:
“(a) Upon appointment by the court, the experts shall examine the defendant with respect to the issue of competence to proceed, as specified by the court in its order appointing the experts to evaluate the defendant, and shall evaluate the defendant as ordered.
(1) The experts shall first consider factors related to the issue of whether the defendant meets the criteria for competence to proceed; that is, whether the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with counsel with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and whether the defendant has a rational, as well as factual, understanding of the pending proceedings.”
Key factors that examination experts will look out for include the defendant’s capacity to:
- Appreciate the charges or allegations against the defendant
- Appreciate the range and nature of possible penalties, if applicable, that may be imposed in the proceedings against the defendant
- Understand the adversary nature of the legal process
- Disclose to counsel facts pertinent to the proceedings at issue
- Manifest appropriate courtroom behavior
- Testify relevantly
After the examinations, the expert will determine one of three things:
- The defendant is competent; or
- The defendant is incompetent but restorable; or
- The defendant is incompetent and not restorable
The Competency Restoration Process in Orlando
If the defendant is deemed incompetent but restorable, the judge will order either in-patient or outpatient care for the individual to help restore his or her competency.
In some cases, this can include something as simple as ensuring that the defendant takes his or her prescribed medications. In other cases, the defendant can be admitted to a mental health facility. The court will set a specific number of days for the treatment and resume with court proceedings after the defendant is restored to competency.
In cases where the court decides that neither in-patient nor outpatient care can treat the defendant, the State will lose their ability to prosecute the individual for his or crime(s). Instead, they can pursue civil commitment of the defendant for a term that cannot exceed the maximum term for the charged offense.
Experienced Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyers
The Orlando criminal defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm have over 100 years of combined experience and have served as prosecutors on the state and local level. We have handled many cases similar to yours in which we had to aggressively advocate for the appropriate treatment of our client and can do the same for you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.