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Lecture 3

PSYC 268 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Mental Health Professional, Prima Facie, Mental Disorder

Course Code
PSYC 268
Deborah Connolly

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Forensic Assessment in Criminal
1. Summarize the legal standards and procedures for determining fitness to stand trial
2. Summarize the legal standards and procedures for determining criminal responsibility
3. Describe the points at which risk is assessed, the 3 approaches to risk assessment
factors used to assess risk
4. Describe psychopathy and malingering and explain how they are assessed
Criminal Competencies
1. Criminal law
a. Law that relates to crime and involves prosecution by the gov of a person who
has been charged with a crime
2. Allow an unfit indi to be tried and found criminally responsible would offend
the dignity and integrity of criminal law
3. Adjudicative competency
a. The umbrella term that encompasses all types of criminal competencies, most
commonly referred to as fitness to stand trial
4. Competency to proceed
a. A general term that refers to the ability of a defendant to proceed through the
criminal adjudication process
5. Competency to be sentenced
a. The ability of an accused to understand the sentencing process and the reasons
why he/she is being sentenced
6. Competency to waive the right to counsel
a. The ability of a defendant to waive the right to the assess of counsel and to
proceed without an attorney (self representation)
Harmony of Competencies
1. R v. Whittle 1994
a. There should not be myriad standards of competence that apply at different
stages of criminal process
b. A single standard should apply across evaluations
2. The legal test for incompetence
a. Limited cognitive capacity test
b. Identify the ability required of a competent person in the circumstances and
deciding if those abilities are absent or seriously impaired in a particular
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c. Must demonstrate profound deficiencies in the requisite abilities before they
will be found incompetent to proceed through that stage of the cj process
3. Proof of mental disorder in 2 situations
a. Assessment of crim responsibility
b. Assessment of fitness to stand trial
4. Competency to waive the right to silence/ counsel
a. Presence of mental disorder is not necessary to est incompetence
Fitness to Stand Trial
1. The ability of defendants to understand the nature and object of criminal
proceedings and to assist counsel in their own defence
2. CC: unfit to stand trial
a. Unable on account of mental disorder to conduct a defence at any stage of the
proceeding before a verdict is rendered or to instruct counsel to do so, and, in
particular, unable on account of mental disorder to:
a.i. Understand the nature or object of the proceeding
a.ii. Understand the possible consequences of the proceedings
a.iii. Communicate with counsel
3. Formal inquiry into competency status must occur whenever a bona fide doubt
about an accused's fitness/ competency is raised
4. Court agrees with conclusions of mental health professional in upward of 95%
Fitness/ Competency Assessment
1. Focus on accused’s current mental state
2. Interview: assess whether the accused is able to demonstrate the specific abilities
required in order to proceed with the case
3. Instrument
a. Fitness interview test-revised
b. MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (US)
c. Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial-revised (US)
4. Third party information: existing records of mental health, interview with
family members
Characteristics of Unfit/ Incompetent Defendants
1. Male, single, unemployed, live alone, have hist of contact with both the cj and mental
health systems, being diagnosed with mak mental disorder
2. F were twice as likely as M to be found unfit to stand trial
3. Difference between indi who was found fit and unfit
a. Unfit: single, unemployed, charged with minor offence, diagnosed with
psychotic disorder
a.i. Less likely to be charged with violent crime or have substance use
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