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Competency & Restoration

A criminal prosecution may not proceed unless the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding, and has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him. Competency determinations generally include psychiatric evaluations followed by an in-court hearing.

If an individual is found competent the case will proceed to determine adjudication. If found incompetent, judges can order services, including mental health treatment and medications that attempt to restore the defendant to legal competence. These services can be provided on an outpatient basis in the community, in jail, or in a mental health facility. Competency determinations can significantly impact case timelines, which is especially important if an individual is incarcerated. Every effort should be made to streamline determinations and related proceedings. There is also a growing consensus that because of the likelihood of an increased length of incarceration and confinement, the competency process should be reserved for defendants who are charged with serious crimes, and others should be diverted to treatment.

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