California Competency Lawyers

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Most Common Defense and Criminal Law Issues

What is Competency?

In order to be tried in criminal court, the defendant must competent. In order to be competent, the defendant must understand and participate in their legal proceedings. Individuals found incompetent can raise the insanity defense. Competency is determine prior to trial. 

When Can a Defendant’s Mental Competency Be Questioned in a Criminal Case?

In California, either a judge or the defendant’s attorney can question a defendant’s mental status. A judge can decide there’s a need to investigate the competency of a defendant. The judge can ask the defendant’s attorney for their opinion. 

If a judge doesn’t raise the issue of a defendant’s competency, then the attorney can raise the issue. The attorney has the responsibility of providing substantial evidence about a defendant’s incompetency. 

Is a Court Hearing Part of the Competency Hearing Process?

Yes. Once the competency issue is raised, the next step is a hearing. At the hearing, the court will appoint a psychologist to examine the defendant. 

Do I Have to Prove I’m Not Competent to Stand Trial?

A defendant’s attorney has the burden of proving the defendant isn’t competent to stand trial. The proof doesn’t need to be beyond a reasonable doubt, but by the preponderance of the evidence

What are the Possible Outcomes of a Competency Hearing?

The judge may decide the defendant is competent to stand trial. If the defendant is found incompetent, one of three things can happen: 

Can An Attorney Explain More about Competency Hearing Process?

Yes. Contact a lawyer about competency in criminal court in California.

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Last Modified: 08-03-2016 03:00 PM PDT

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