FPSY-6125 Assessment in Forensic Psychology Settings
October 23, 2011
Juvenile Competency to Stand Trial
In this paper we will examine competency to stand trial, more specifically juvenile competency to stand trial. Competency to stand trial has to do with the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the trial. An individual is judged competent to stand trial if he or she understands the nature of the proceedings against them, is capable of participating in his own defense, assisting his counsel, and possesses the ability to make decisions about the rights entitled to him. This paper will examine the similarities and differences between how juveniles are assessed for competency as compared to adults, some of the issues distinguishing juveniles from adults in terms of competency to stand trial, and why these issues make it important to assess juveniles differently from adults. The issue of competency of a defendant is typically raised by his or her defense attorney. When a forensic expert is called in to do an evaluation of an adult, he typically examines prior mental health records and social histories, as well as any criminal history, of the defendant before interviewing him and employs the use of specialized forensic assessment tools such as the Competency Assessment Interview, MacArthur Competency Assessment Tool-Adjudicative Competency (Mac-CAT), and the Interdisciplinary Fitness Review-Revised, which all take the form of semi-structured interviews. In their face to face evaluations, forensic experts must first attempt to develop a rapport with the defendant, obtain critical data necessary to make a determination, evaluate for malingering, and obtain information from third parties. The majority of adults found incompetent are found to suffer from mental retardation or another mental illness. If an individual is deemed competent, the trial will proceed as scheduled; if...