Textbook Notes (381,053)
CA (168,340)
UTSC (19,304)
Psychology (10,047)
PSYC39H3 (204)
Chapter 8

Chapter 8 notes

18 Pages
135 Views

Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC39H3
Professor
David Nussbaum

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Chapter 8- Role of mental illness in court
Fitness to stand trial- Basic idea: fundamental justice
People with mental disorders are cognitively and emotionally impaired
They may be unable to effectively participate in a legal defense
They may therefore be found guilty even if they are innocent.
Fitness to stand trial: legal criteria
1.Presumption of Fitness unless demonstrated otherwise
2.Onus of proof is on the party raising the issue
3.Level of proof for Fitness is balance of probabilities
Legal criteria: standards of proof
In legal terms, there are four basic levels of proof required for decisions appropriate to different contexts
1.Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Application: Criminal Conviction
Probability ~ 95 % and up
2.Clear and Convincing Evidence
Application: Important Non-Criminal Decisions
Probability ~ 75% to 94% (or above)
3.Preponderance of the Evidence
Application:
Probability ~ 65% to 74% (or above)
4.Balance of Probabilities
Application:
Probability ~ 51% or above
Taylor criteria: Canadian standard represents a very basic factual understanding of the issues
1.Unable on account of a Mental Disorder to:
This is the first step that requires a mental health expert;
www.notesolution.com
Only a mental health expert (including psychologists) can diagnose a mental disorder, absent
which Fitness is not an issue.
2.Understand nature & object of the proceedings
These relate to questions about the roles of the judge, crown attorney, defense attorney,
witnesses, police, meaning of an oath, to establish a finding of guilt or innocence.
3.Understand possible consequences of proceedings
Jail/prison if guilty,
Hospitalization if NCRMD,
Freedom if innocent, probation (if applicable),
Diversion if applicable (minor crime with negligible risk for future physical or psychological
harm to society along with need and plans for treatment).
4.Communicate with counsel
Often inferred by mental health professional
Often best answered by attorney
Presumptions in Canadas legal system
In English-Canadian law, two elements that must be present for criminal guilt to be established
Actus reus: a wrongful deed
Mens rea: criminal intent
Fitness to stand trial
Basic idea: fundamental justice
People with mental disorders are cognitively and emotionally impaired
They may be unable to effectively participate in a legal defense
They may therefore be found guilty even if they are innocent.
Unfit to stand trial: refers to an inability to conduct a defense at any stage of the proceedings on
account of a persons mental disorder.
Eg: a defendant may be found unfit to stand trial if he or she is experiencing an episode of
schizophrenia and lacks the ability to understand the situation and tell the lawyer the facts of the
case
www.notesolution.com
The case of R.v. Prichard has been considered the key case for the fitness standard. Three criteria were
delineated in the Prichard case:
Whether the defendant is mute of malice (i.e., intentionality)
Whether the defendant can plead to the indictment
Whether the defendant has sufficient cognitive capacity to understand the trial proceedings
Enactment of bill C-30 in 1992- a defendant is unfit to stand trial if he or she is unable on account of
mental disorder to conduct a defense at any stage of the proceedings 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
Communicate with counsel (if unable to counsel- limited cognitive capacity, communicate only facts,
not being very strict: R.V. Taylor case)
Held in custody for 5-30 days. Detention should not exceed 60 days
Instances in which the issue of fitness may be raised include:
When a plea is entered
When a defendant chooses not to be represented by counsel
During sentencing
Court (defense) or crown- might raise the issue of a defendants fitness
~5000 fitness evaluations were conducted annually in Canada.
Only medical practitioners have been allowed to conduct court-ordered assessments of such aspects as
fitness to stand trial and criminal responsibility (no psychiatry or forensic background required)
Canadian criminal code excludes psychologists from conducting court-ordered assessments
Psychologists may be involved in court
Conduct psychological testing
Assist with the assessment of defendants who are referred for evaluation
Competency Screening Test
A true screening instrument
Sentence completion paradigm
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Chapter 8- Role of mental illness in court Fitness to stand trial- Basic idea: fundamental justice People with mental disorders are cognitively and emotionally impaired They may be unable to effectively participate in a legal defense They may therefore be found guilty even if they are innocent. Fitness to stand trial: legal criteria 1. Presumption of Fitness unless demonstrated otherwise 2. Onus of proof is on the party raising the issue 3. Level of proof for Fitness is balance of probabilities Legal criteria: standards of proof In legal terms, there are four basic levels of proof required for decisions appropriate to different contexts 1. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Application: Criminal Conviction Probability ~ 95 % and up 2. Clear and Convincing Evidence Application: Important Non-Criminal Decisions Probability ~ 75% to 94% (or above) 3. Preponderance of the Evidence Application: Probability ~ 65% to 74% (or above) 4. Balance of Probabilities Application: Probability ~ 51% or above Taylor criteria: Canadian standard represents a very basic factual understanding of the issues 1. Unable on account of a Mental Disorder to: This is the first step that requires a mental health expert; www.notesolution.com Only a mental health expert (including psychologists) can diagnose a mental disorder, absent which Fitness is not an issue. 2. Understand nature & object of the proceedings These relate to questions about the roles of the judge, crown attorney, defense attorney, witnesses, police, meaning of an oath, to establish a finding of guilt or innocence. 3. Understand possible consequences of proceedings Jailprison if guilty, Hospitalization if NCRMD, Freedom if innocent, probation (if applicable), Diversion if applicable (minor crime with negligible risk for future physical or psychological harm to society along with need and plans for treatment). 4. Communicate with counsel Often inferred by mental health professional Often best answered by attorney Presumptions in Canadas legal system In English-Canadian law, two elements that must be present for criminal guilt to be established Actus reus: a wrongful deed Mens rea: criminal intent Fitness to stand trial Basic idea: fundamental justice People with mental disorders are cognitively and emotionally impaired They may be unable to effectively participate in a legal defense They may therefore be found guilty even if they are innocent. Unfit to stand trial: refers to an inability to conduct a defense at any stage of the proceedings on account of a persons mental disorder. Eg: a defendant may be found unfit to stand trial if he or she is experiencing an episode of schizophrenia and lacks the ability to understand the situation and tell the lawyer the facts of the case www.notesolution.com
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