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PSY 300 (10)
Chapter 8

Chapter 8 Psychology in the Law

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PSY 300
Tara M Burke

Chapter 8: Role of Mental Illness in court - Two elements must be present for criminal guilt to be established: o Actus reus: a wrongful deed o Mens Rea: Criminal intent Fitness to stand Trial - Unfit to stand trial: inability to conduct a defene at any stage of the proceedings on account of a person’s mental disorder - R. v. Balliram (2003): an unfit person cannot be sentenced - R. v. Prichard (1977): three criteria: o Whether the defendant does not have intentionality o Whether they can plead to accusation o Whether they have sufficient cognitive capacity to understand the trial proceedings - R. v. Taylor (1992): defendant must be able to state the facts relating to the offence that would allow an appropriate defense. - Criminal code of Canada states that 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 - Approx 5000 fitness evaluations were conducted annually in Canada - Who can assess fitness? Only medical practitioners are allowed to conduct court- ordered assessments. *Psychologists are excluded Fitness Instruments - FIT-R Fitness interview test revised: Semi structured interview. Used to understand the nature or object of the proceedings, understand possible consequences of the proceedings, communicate with the council. - Once the interview is complete the evaluator must make a decision regarding overall fitness - Final decision involves 3 stages: 1) Determine the existence of a mental disorder 2) Determine capacity regarding the 3 psych abilities stated above 3) Examining previous information - Competency Screening test (CST): Cst core and a brief psychiatric interview is aimed at distinguishing between a competent and incompetent defendant - Competency to stand trial assessment instrument (CAI): semi-structured interview and a comprehensive competency evaluation - Interdisciplinary Fitness Interview (IFI): semi-structured interview marking 3 aareas of competency: functional memory, appropriate relationship with the lawyer and understanding the justice system - MacAurthur Assessment Tool- Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA): structured interview with 22 items assessing competency Distinguishing between Fit and Unfit Defendants - Fit defendants were more likely to have been married than unfit - Unfit defendants were more likely to be older females belonging to a minority group - Incompetent defendants= less likely to maintain employment and had more serious mental illness - Incompetent defendants more likely to be charged with property and miscellaneous crimes than violent crimes - Zapf and Roesch (1998): unfit defendants more likely to fit the criteria for a psychotic disorder - Most common form of treatment to restore fitness is medication - What happens after a finding of unfitness? The proceedings against this defendant are halted until competency is restored - Unfit defendants in Canada- judge may order that the defendant is kept in a hospital, or they are conditionally discharged - If a defendant remains unfit after 90 days, they are referred to a review board - Prima Facie Case: the Crown prosecutor must prove that there is sufficient evidence to bring the case to trial - R. v. Demers: courts cannot issue an absolute discharge to defendants who are unlikely to become fit and pose no threat to society Mental State at the Time of the Offense - Insanity: impairment of mental functioning affecting perceptions, beliefs and motivations at the time of the offense - R. v. McNaughton: He was initially charged with murder (of 2) then found “not guilty” because his current mental status was insane. Instead he’d serve his life in a mental institute - Three elements found in this case: 1) Defendant found to be suffering from a disease of the mind
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