Competency To Stand Trial Essay

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At any point in a criminal proceeding that a defendant shows signs of mental illness, his competence to proceed to stand trial may be questioned. In theory, the requirement that a criminal defendant be mentally competent before the trial can proceed assures that the defendant will receive a fair trial (Morris et al. 2004). The Supreme Court has long considered a competency to be a right of the criminal defendant in court. The defendant 's awareness and sanity must be intact to have him stand on trial. However, assessment conducted by assigning professionals has formed part of the court system to determine the competency of the defendant. Either the defense or the prosecution or the court itself may raise the issue, even if the defendant himself objects to it. The defendant 's mental state is crucial during trial. Two of the most frequently requested forensic evaluations involve questions of competency to stand trial (CST) and mental state at the time of the …show more content…
That is, between 2% and 8% of all felony defendants are referred for evaluations of competency to stand trial each year. The issue has made the assessment for evaluations of competency to stand trial very important and has been integrated within many trials. The prohibition against trying an incompetent defendant date back to at least the 17th century and serves the dual purpose of ensuring a fair trial for the defendant and preserving the dignity of the adversarial process. Competency was looked at in a closer scope in 1972 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that incompetent individuals could not be held for “more than a reasonable period of time necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability” that they will regain competency in the foreseeable future in the case of Jackson v.

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