Competency to Stand Trial or Fitness to Stand Trial requires that a defendant understands the nature and purpose of the legal proceedings against him and be able to effectively cooperate with counsel in his defense. To understand the proceedings, a defendant must be able to comprehend the charges against him and the penalties if convicted. Running Head: 1 COMPETENCY Competency to Stand Trial with Adults and Juveniles Marcia Roberts Assessment in Forensic Psychology Settings Walden University January 18, Running Head: 2 COMPETENCY Competence to stand trial is part of the constitutional set of protection known as due process put into place by the landmark case of Dusky v.
Competency to Stand Trial A defendant cannot be convicted of a crime if they are not mentally competent to stand trial. This would violate constitutional protections for defendants by denying them the right to a fair trial. Competency involves being able to understand the proceedings and play a role in their defense. Competency to stand trial is legally unrelated to the defendant’s mental state at the time of the alleged crime. In other words, the issue of competency relates to the defendant’s state of mind during criminal proceedings, not during the commission of the crime.
If a defendant is found to be competent to stand trial, then the criminal proceedings will move forward. If they are in a state hospital for competency restoration, they will be discharged to the county jail and will be held there during the trial. The United States legal system has long recognized that criminal defendants must be competent to stand trial (CST) prior to proceeding with the legal process to allow for fairness for the accused and protect the integrity of the justice system.