Competency to Stand Trial

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  • An individual's ability to understand the nature and purpose of court proceedings. In other words, a defendant not only needs to be physically present at trial, but he or she also needs to be mentally present—that is, to understand the purpose of the proceedings and be able to assist in his or her own defense. This concept is applicable at every stage of the court proceedings, from pretrial hearings to criminal trials or sentencing hearings. The national standard for competency to stand trial was formulated in Dusky v. United States (1960), which put forth that a defendant must have “sufficient present ability to consult with [one's] attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding, and a rational as well as factual understanding of the ...

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