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Competency, Foundational and Decisional

The law in the United States requires that criminal defendants be competent to participate in the adjudicatory proceedings against them. Legal competence is a complex construct that includes both the fundamental capacities needed to participate in the process (adjudicative competence) and a degree of autonomy in making important case decisions (decisional competence). This entry examines the legal criteria for competence as well as the societal values that underlie the requirements concerning the ability of those accused of crime to participate in proceedings against them.

Criteria for Adjudicative Competence

In the United States, individuals accused of crimes are afforded certain constitutional rights and protections during the adjudicatory process. The Fifth Amendment, for example, protects defendants from being compelled by the state to testify against themselves. The Sixth Amendment ...

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