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Chapter 9

PSYC 3020 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Blood Sugar, Psychopathology, Nicholas Conyngham Tindal

Course Code
PSYC 3020
Dan Yarmey

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Week 9: Mental Illness in the Court
Chapter 8: The Role of Mental Illness in the Court
Actus reus: A wrongful deed
Mens rea: Criminal intent
- The above two elements must be present for criminal guilt to be established
and must be found beyond a reasonable doubt
Unfit to Stand Trial: An inability to conduct a defence at any stage of the
proceedings on account of a person’s mental disorder
R v. Balliram: An unfit person could not be sentenced (but the degree of
impairment necessary for an unfit determination has been difficult to pinpoint
R. v. Prichard: Considered a key case for the fitness standard
o Whether the defendant is mute of malice (intentionality)
o Whether the defendant can plead to the indictment
o Whether the defendant has sufficient cognitive capacity to understand
the trial proceedings
- Bill C-30 instituted a number of changes with how the court treats the
mentally ill
o Created a fitness standard
Can they understand the nature of the proceedings?
Can they understand the consequences?
Can they communicate with counsel?
o Also changed the length of time someone would be held in custody for
a fitness evaluation
5 days with the possibility for extension but not surpassing 30
days, entire length of detention cannot exceed 60 days
Roesch found that the average length of time for an evaluation
was 3 weeks and that 88% occurred in in-patient facilities
- R v. Taylor: Communication with counsel includes the defendant needed to
state the facts relating to the offense that allow for an appropriate defence
o Need not be able to communicate facts in their best interest
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find more resources at oneclass.com

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- Issue of fitness may be raised at various points from the time of arrest to the
defendant’s sentence determination
o Defendant is assumed to be fit unless the court is satisfied on the
balance of probabilities that he or she is unfit
o Defence or Crown can raise the issue of fitness
o Burden of proving it is on the party who raised it
- Webster found that approximately 5000 fitness evaluations are conducted
each year in Canada
o Roesch found that 61% of a sample from a B.C remand facility
underwent evaluations
o 24% were held for both fitness and criminal responsibility
- In the U.S Bonnie and Grisso found that 2-8% of all felony defendants have
fitness evaluations
- Canadian Criminal Code excludes psychologists from conducting court-
ordered assessments
o Must be carried out by medical practitioner’s
o But need not have any background is psychiatry or forensics
- Psychologists can conduct psychological testing though and assist with the
assessment of defendants
- Zapf and Roesch found that decisions about fitness using screening
instruments and decisions made in a psychiatric facility were consistent with
each other
o Thus using an instrument is a more cost effective system
- Fitness Interview Test Revised (FIT-R): A semi-structured interview that
assess the three psychological abilities stated in Canada’s code
o Understanding the nature: Understanding the arrest proceedings,
the nature and severity of charges, the role of participants
o Understanding consequences: Appreciation of person involvement
and the range of penalties
o Communicate with Counsel: Communicate facts, ability to relate,
ability to plan a legal strategy
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find more resources at oneclass.com

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o Each measure is rated on a 3 points scale (3 being severely impaired)
- Determines the existence of a mental disorder
- Determines the defendant’s capacity regarding each of the three
- Examines the previous information
- Competency Screening Test (CST): Has 22 uncompleted sentences that the
respondent must finish…
o The lawyer told Bill that…
o When ) go to court the lawyer will..
o Items measure three constructs, 1.) the potential for a constructive
relationship between the defendant and his lawyer, 2.) the defendants
understanding of the court process and 3.) Their ability to emotionally
cope with the court process
o Scored from 0-2 (with 0 having no legal knowledge, 2 having
o Used to weed out defendants who can proceed at trial and those who
require further assessment
Score of 20 or below needs further assessment
- Competency to Stand Trial Assessment Instrument (CAI): Designed to
accompany the CST, a semi structured interview
o Assesses 13 functions corresponding to a defendants ability to
participate in the criminal process
o Each function is represented in a statement with 2 or 3 follow up
o For each function, responses are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 is total
incapacity to function, 5 reflects no impairment)
Score of 6 can be given when there is insufficient information
to rate the function
- Interdisciplinary Fitness Interview (IFI): A semi-structured interview
measuring three areas of competency…
o Functional memory, appropriate relationship with lawyer, and
understanding the justice system
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
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