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Competency to Stand Trial

The issue of competency to stand trial refers to a defendant’s current mental functioning at the time of his or her trial: Those who are unable to understand the court proceedings or unable to assist counsel in their defense as a result of mental disorder or cognitive deficit are considered incompetent to stand trial. The incompetency doctrine attempts to ensure that all defendants have an opportunity to be mentally present and to participate in their own defense, thereby upholding the dignity and reliability of court proceedings and assuaging the public’s confidence in the fairness of the criminal justice system. Although competency to stand trial is a legal term, it comprises several psycholegal abilities, which are evaluated by psychologists and other mental health professionals. The evaluations ...

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