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Assessing Competency Essay

According to the American Bar associations criminal justice mental health standard (1994), the present mental incompetence is the most important thing in evaluating a defendant competence to stand a trial. In the case of State v Jenkins (1989), the jury held that the standard to determine competency to stand trial is that the finding must be supported by evidence.

In addition, the US Supreme court in established Dusky v State (1960), held that the standard to determine a defendant competence is whether the person has present ability to consult with his attorney with reasonable degree of understanding and whether he has a comprehension of proceedings against him. The supreme also holds that being under medication does not mean that the defendant is incompetent. So what I would like to know about Wilson is his present mental ability, I would wish to know whether he has an understanding on what is happening currently around him.

This is because from the above criteria we understand that the present mental ability is the most important feature in identifying whether the defendant is competent or not. I would also like to know whether Wilson has an understanding of the courts proceedings and whether he understands the prosecution against him. I think it is also important to evaluate his ability to assist his attorney with a reasonable degree of understanding.

The ability to assist his attorney includes: The ability to work with the attorney, being responsible as the defendant, appreciating plea bargaining, paying attention in court, being free from self defeating behavior, evaluating predictable trial outcome, and giving reliable outcome for the offense. Another thing I would like to know is what was happening to him just before the accident happened and also his recent record of behavior. This would assist in establishing the present mental incompetence.

They people I would wish to interview to give information that would assist in competency evaluation would be sources who know the defendant well such as the sister and the other family member. I would also request sister to introduce to me friends who could also assist in giving more information. According the Dusky Standards (1960), Criteria for defendants’ incompetence include History of illness, irrational behaviors, previous behaviors that portrayed mental disturbance. According to the information given Wilson is incompetent for trial because he has a history of mental illness at the age of 17.

In addition, he has portrayed irrational behaviors at the past which shows a mental disturbance. Wilson has low intelligence, according to the information given; his IQ is in the range of mental retardation. This IQ is too low which will make it impossible for Wilson to gather any reliable information required by the court. This will definitely impair the ability to comprehend the trial process. The defendant also has portrayed depression and self defeating behavior. For instance, when he got agitated and chocked her sister shows mental instability and depression at the age of 19.

A person experiencing such behavior may be incapable of following trial procedures, and also concentration in the court room. Wilson also exhibits disorganized thinking, incapable to undertake proceedings of a trial. When his parents died in the car, he confronts people who are concerned with the death and tells them the thing happened there and tries to stop any of their effort to save the situation. This disorganized thinking Wilson is experiencing would make it impossible for Wilson to pay attention to court proceedings.

In this status he is not a position to give any reliable information concerning the death of his parents. Disorganized thinking will also result into lack of concentration which is very much required in a court hearing. Another major reason for not being competent is that Wilson was later diagnosed with delusions. Delusions affects rational decision making, needed in giving the testimony. His ability to make reasonable decisions when under trial. Wilson was also diagnosed with hallucinations.

According to Duskys (1960), defendants diagnosed with hallucinations are deemed to be incompetent as this condition makes it hard for them to concentrate in the court room. This is because hallucinations results into uncontrolled behavior for example shouting, crying among other behaviors that can not be controlled in court. In addition, Wilson was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia which also will impair the ability of the defendant to stand on trial. Although, the defendant has been put on meditation, he is not reliable to undertake the charges.

Finally, according to the statement he gave on his parent’s death it exhibited present in capabilities to stand a trial, he believed his dad was a KGB and his mother a witch. This shows that Wilson’s current status of the mind is not stable, which makes him incompetent for the trial. Questions that I would ask. 1. What are you charged with? This question is aimed to determine whether the defendant understands the nature of the trial. This question is also helpful in evaluating the defendants general knowledge on what is happening and the charges against him.

American Bar associations criminal justice mental health standard (1994) holds that a defendant can only be punished if he understands the reason for which he is being punished if he does not know then he is incompetent. 2. What does a judge do in a trial? This questions will give me an oversight concerning whether the defendant has understanding of the court procedures. It will also help me determine whether the defendant would understand the significance of being tried. 3. Suppose someone lied about you in the court what do you do? This question would asses the defendant’s abilities to defend himself.

It will also help determine Whether the defendant is capable of working with his attorney. 4. Who decides whether you are guilty or not? The question will also assist in establishing whether the defendant has an understanding on what happens in the court or not. This question like the first one helps in establishing whether the defendant understand the court procedures. 5. What would your Attorney do if you have a trial? The question will help me understand whether the defendant is capable of working together with his attorney and come up with defense strategies. 6.

What would you do if the jury found you guilty? This question will help me know whether the defendant is thinking or predicting any possible out come of the trial. According to Dusky (1960), for a defendant to be proved competent he must grasp the meaning of this process and the possible outcome. 7. What does the prosecutor do in your trial? This question will help evaluate whether the defendant understands the importance of charges against, him and also the nature of those charges. The most important thing tool to access future violence is by evaluating the history of violence.

According Monahan (1981), persons who have presented violent behaviors are at high risk of future violence. There also has been cases of violent fantasies, 70% of men in general population has exhibited this fantasies of violence. Many victims of violence have a perception that their situations have no other solution than violence. Persons with mental instability will inmost instances are at risk of future violence. For children who were violent research has shown they may turn out to be violent adults.

Exhibited violence is one of the most indicators of potential future violence. It can be directed within oneself or towards other people. Wilson has had history of violence to himself, when he had a gun inflicted shot; when he tried to choke his sister and shouting that she could have been destroyed earlier. All this historical violence record shows that he is exposed to future risks of committing violence. Wilson is also on high risk due to the fact that he has been diagnosed with hallucinations.

When the command of hallucinations increases the risk of violence is more likely to be experienced. Especially when he hear things that are not there for instance from the mother. In addition, Wilson is exposed to future violence as he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia which poses the feeling of rejection. Delusions also contribute to high risks of future violence due to the fact that delusions bring about paranoid ideas and intense hostility. Due to the fact that illness has eroded ability to perceive reality he is an increased risk of violence.

He is also under medication and under stressful conditions which might worsen the situation and the risk for the future. References 1. Webster, C. D. , Ben-Aron, M. H. , & Hucker, S. J. (1985) . New York: Cambridge University Press. Dangerousness: Probability, Prediction, Psychiatry and Public Policy 2. Mulvey, E: (1994) “Assessing the Evidence of A Link between Mental Illness and Violence,” Hospital and Community Psychiatry 3. Dr John Monahan, (1981), Predicting dangerousness, Newyork, University press. 4. Grisso Thomas, (1988), Competency to stand trial evaluation, PPR press.


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