Questions regarding a criminal defendant's possible mental disorder may emerge during nearly any point in criminal justice proceedings: arrest, preliminary hearings, trial, sentencing, incarceration, and release. Oftentimes, the law explicitly identifies the relevance of mental disorder. In the United States, for example, legal doctrine addresses the ways in which mental disorder might affect a criminal defendant so severely that it precludes participating in trial or precludes culpability for a given offense. On the other hand, there is no comprehensive or integrated approach to mental disorder within the criminal justice process. Mental disorder may prove relevant to one legal question but not to another, and different disorders—even different symptoms of the same disorder—may result in substantially different legal outcomes.

The attention the law gives to mental disorder ...

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