Quick Fixes for Effectively Dealing With Persons Found Incompetent to Stand Trial

Originally published in November 2007, Quick Fixes for Effectively Dealing With Persons Found Incompetent to Stand Trial explores steps that jurisdictions can take to expedite their competence examination, competence restoration, and return to court processes.

Competence to stand trial requires defendants to be able to understand their charges and to assist their attorney in preparation of their defense. When the issue of competence is raised by any of the parties involved, a competence examination can be ordered by the court. The requirements of competence proceedings have overburdened the mental health system recently in many states, and often cause unnecessarily consequences for defendants, including prolonged jail stays and hospitalization and delayed adjudication of criminal charges.

The fact sheet highlights low-barrier actions that jurisdictions in Washington, Texas, Colorado, and Virginia, among others, have taken to streamline their services and ensure that individuals for whom competence is raised are provided with timely, appropriate services for their needs. Highlighted actions include the following:

  • Multiple county jails across Washington have piloted competence evaluations through video-conference.
  • Colorado and Washington provide competence examinations in jails, reducing the demand for inpatient beds and eliminating transport delays.
  • A competence restoration manual has been developed to train community-based and jail-based examiners in Virginia.
  • Some states, including Indiana and Illinois, grant the hospitals the authority to transfer defendants whose competence has been restored back to court.

Quick Fixes for Effectively Dealing With Persons Found Incompetent to Stand Trial has been updated from its 2007 publication and re-branded to allow for broad distribution to the field. Readers should view the 2020 publication as a reference resource.

This resource was first released in 2007 and rereleased in 2020.

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