Textbook Notes (362,755)
Canada (158,052)
Psychology (1,303)
PSYCH 3CC3 (30)
Chapter 8

Chapter 8- The Role of Mental Illness in Court.docx

10 Pages
Unlock Document

McMaster University
Richard B Day

Psych 3CC3: Forensic Psychology Chapter 8: The Role of Mental Illness in Court Presumptions in Canada’s Legal System - Two elements that must be present for criminal guilt to be established:  Wrongful deed, also known as actus reus  Criminal intent, also known as mens rea - Must be found beyond a reasonable doubt Fitness to Stand Trial - In order for individuals who are charged with the commission of a crime to be tried fairly, they should have some understanding of the charges and proceedings and be able to help in preparing their defence - Unfit to stand trial: defendant’s ability to conduct a defence at any stage of the proceedings on account of a mental disorder - Whether the defendant is mute of malice (intentionality) - Whether the defendant can plead to the indictment - Whether the defendant has sufficient cognitive capacity to understand the trial proceedings - Bill C-30: a defendant is unfit to stand trial if he or she is 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 understand the nature or object of the proceedings, understand the possible consequences of the proceedings, or communicate with counsel - A defendant need only e able to state the facts relating to the offence that would allow an appropriate defence. - Defendant need not be able to communicate facts that are in his or her best interests - Five-day limit on court-ordered assessments, with provisions for extensions if necessary. Extension is not to exceed 30 days, and the entire length of detention should not exceed 60 days Raising the Issue of Fitness - May be raised at various points from the time of arrest to the defendant’s sentence determination - A defendant is assumed to be fit to stand trial unless the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that he or she is unfit - The burden of proving unfitness is on the party who raises the issue How Many Defendants are Referred for Fitness Evaluations? - Estimated that approximately 5000 fitness evaluations were conducted annually in Canada Who can Assess Fitness - In Canada, only medical practitioners have been allowed to conduct court- ordered assessments - Excludes psychologists from conducting court-ordered assessments - Medical practitioners need not have any background in psychiatry or experience with forensic populations - Psychologists can be involved in court-ordered assessments Fitness Instruments - Zapd and Roesch: long stays in mental facilities were unnecessary for most of the fitness decisions - Fitness interview test revised: semi-structured interview used to asses the three psychological abilities stated in the Code’s fitness standard  Understand the nature of object of the proceedings  Defendants understanding of the arrest process  The nature and severity of the current charges  The role of key participants  Understand the possible consequences of the proceedings  Appreciation of personal involvement in and importance of the proceedings  Appreciation of range and nature of possible penalties and defences  Communicate with counsel  Defendant’s ability to communicate facts  Defendant’s ability to relate to his or her attorney  Defendant’s ability to plan legal strategy  The final decision involves: determining the existence of a mental disorder, determining the defendant’s capacity regarding each of the three psychological abilities, and examining the previous information  Judgment based on the severity of impairment and its perceived importance - Competency Screening test:  Measure the potential for a constructive relationship between the defendant and his lawyer, the defendant’s understanding of the court process, and the ability of the defendant to emotionally cope with the criminal process  Aimed at distinguishing between competent defendants who could proceed to trial and those defendants who should undergo a more complete competency assessment - Competency to stand trial assessment instrument:  Semi-structured interview and constitutes a comprehensive competency evaluation  Assess 13 functions corresponding to a defendant’s ability to participate in the criminal process on behalf of his or her best interest - Interdisciplinary fitness interview:  Semi-structured interview measuring: functional memory, appropriate relationship with lawyer, and understanding of the justice system  Four main sections: legal items, psychopathological items, overall evaluation, and consensual judgment  Revision includes two sections: current clinical condition and psycho- legal abilities  Current clinical condition includes: attention/consciousness, delusions, hallucinations, impaired reasoning and judgment, impaired memory, mood and affect  Psycho-legal abilities: o Capacity to appreciate changes and to disclose pertinent facts, events, and motives o Courtroom demeanour and capacity to understand the adversarial nature of proceedings o Quality of relationship with attorney o Appreciation of and reasoned choice with respect to legal option and consequences - MacArthur competence assessment tool:  Factual understanding of the legal system and the adjudication process  Reasoning ability  Understanding of own legal situation and circumstances Distinguishing between Fit and Unfit Defendants - Referred defendants were less likely to understand the nature and object of the proceedings, and possible consequences of the proceedings - Fit defendants were significantly more likely to have been married than were unfit defendants - Defendants who are referred for fitness evaluations are single, unemployed, and living alone - Unfit defendants were more likely to be older females belonging to a minority group and to have fewer marital resources - Incompetent defendants were less likely to maintain employment and had a more serious mental illness than competent defendants - More African-American defendants were found incompetent - Incompetent defendants were more likely to be charged with property and miscellaneous crimes rather than violent crimes - Not all psychotic defendants are unfit, and the presence of psychosis is not sufficient or equivalent to unfitness - Substance abuse disorders were significantly less likely to be found in unfit defendants than in the fit defendants How is Fitness Restored? - When a defendant is found unfit to stand trial, the goal of the criminal justice system is to get the defendant fit. - The most common form of treatment is medication. - Defendant has the right to refuse medication by a treatment order may be imposed by the court What Happens after a Finding of Unfitness? - Proceedings against a defendant who is found unfit to stand trial are haltered until competency is restored - In the event that the defendant becomes fit, he or she returns to court and the proceedings resume - Cases of defendants who continue to be unfit are reviewed on an annual basis by the review board. In these cases, the Crown must prove that there is sufficient evidence to bring the case to trial - Even though a defendant may be restored to fitness, it is possible that eh or she will become unfit once again during the trial proceedings. If unfitness occurs again, the proceedings stop until the defendant becomes fit - A court now has the authority to stay the proceedings for a defendant who is unlikely to become fit if any of the following are true:  The accused is unlikely ever to become fit  The accused does not pose a significant threat to the safety of the public  A stay of proceedings is in the interests of the proper administration of justice Mental State at Time of Offence - Insanity has been defined as not being of sound mind, and being mentally deranged and irrational - Insanity removes the responsibility for performing a particular act because of uncontrollable impulses or delusions - McNaughton standard:  A defendant must be found to be suffering from a defect of reason/disease of the mind  A defendant must not know the nature and quality of the act he or she is performing  A defendant must not know that what he or she is doing is wrong - Defendants who were found not guilty by reason of insanity could not be automatically detained until their level of dangerousness was decided or an appropriate disposition was determined - Defendant could raise the issue of his or her mental capacity at any point in the trial, by the Crown could not do so until it had proved the crime against the defendant or until the defendant raised his or her mental capacity - Bill C-30:  The term not guilty by reason of insanity was changed to not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder  No person is criminally responsible for an act committed or an omission made while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered the person incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission or of knowing that it was wrong  Review boards were created to oversee the care and disposition of defendants found unfit and/or not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder - Winko v. British Columbia: a defendant who is NCRMD should be detained only if he or she poses a criminal threat to the public; otherwise, the defendant should receive an absolute discharge - Brian’s law:  Implementation of community treatment orders  Those who have a mental illness may be forced to take prescribed medication  The word imminent was removed: no longer must be an immediate danger for someone to be confined to a psychiatric facility Raising the Issue of Insanity - Less than 1% of all felony cases will argue an insanity defence - The success rate of such a defence is variable, approximately 25% succeed - Insa
More Less

Related notes for PSYCH 3CC3

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.