Edward has been referred to my facility by a judge. I have been asked to assess if the client is fit to stand trial in the court of law. For the last three months, Edward has been a patient in my facility. However, this time I have been ordered to undertake a competency evaluation on him. During February last year, the client had been arrested for murdering John Wilson and Jane Wilson. After he had been arrested, he was convicted of two counts of first-degree manslaughter. His medical records indicate that he had a history of mental health treatment. According to medical reports, Edward was not taking his psychotropic prescription at the time he committed the murders.
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Given the information provided, what else would you want to know about Edward?
Based on the information offered in the case study, it is apparent that I should gather more information about the defendant before meeting him. In the case study, an arrest report, a witness report, and a behavior report have been provided. For appropriate assessment, I should gather more material concerning the nature and quality of relations between the defendant and his counsel. Through this, I will interview the attorney of the accused to identify if Edward has been cooperative with him or her. I will also like to know more about Edward’s social history. More information about his academic background, substance abuse, and past criminal justice involvement will come in handy during the evaluation process.
Whom would you want to interview for collateral contact about him, and what information could they provide you to help determine competency?
I would like to interview his attorney, close friend, girlfriend, and relative for collateral contact about Edward. A meeting with the lawyer will offer more information about the defendant’s concerns. The interview will also provide crucial information about Edward’s cooperation. Through the meeting, I will be able to inform his lawyer about the consequences of the defendant‘s rejection to partake in the assessment. After the meeting, the attorney will notify Edward about the expected evaluation and the need to cooperate (Greene & Wrightsman, 2013). By doing so, I will prevent some of the difficulties associated with the assessment process.
His close friend, girlfriend, or relative will offer much-needed information concerning Edward’s social history. In the case study, a synopsis of his social past has been provided. Therefore, an interview with one of the persons mentioned above will provide more information about his academic background, substance abuse, and previous criminal justice involvement.
Define competency to stand trial?
In the US, competency to stand trial is an evaluation carried out to determine the defendant’s capability to comprehend and sensibly contribute to a court procedure (Edens, 2001). The examiner ought to be directed by the law in the locality where the case is being administered to assess a defendant’s fitness. In America, a judge is required to file a concern of competency to stand trial if the law court’s evidence or those offered by the tribunal or defense questions the defendant’s fitness. The proofs include the defendant’s absurd behavior, bizarre conduct at trial, and any preceding clinical condition on competence to stand trial (Greene & Wrightsman, 2013).
To comprehend the court’s procedures, a defendant ought to be able to understand the accusations against him or her and the consequences if found guilty. He or so should also be able to show some understanding of the judicial process and the roles of those who partake in it. The defendant should be able to propose a legal plan, be able to remember and recount relevant details and proceedings before and after the offense to liaise with the attorney. As such, the prongs required to be appraised include the following:
- Competency to waive rights
- Competency to plead guilty
- Competency to waive counsel
- Competency to refuse the insanity defense
What questions would you ask Edward to assess his competency to stand trial?
To evaluate Edward’s competency to stand trial several, I am required to ask him precise queries, which explore his capability-related capabilities. The questions should focus on several relevant areas. Indicated below are some of the queries that I will use in evaluating my client:
- Do you recall how you murdered your parents?
- Do you remember how you were arrested?
- Can you describe your criminal charges?
- Have you been accused of a criminal offense in the past?
- What prompted you to commit the murder?
- Do you expect to be convicted of the offense?
- How will you plead for mercy if found guilty?
- How do you expect your case to end up?
- Have you lied to your attorney?
- Do you understand the roles of the judge, attorney, and prosecutor in the courtroom?
Besides interviewing, what other ways would you assess his competency?
Other than interviewing, I will use assessment tools to evaluate Edward’s fitness. The MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool and the Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial-revised (ECST-R) are some of the instruments I will utilize in the evaluation process (Greene & Wrightsman, 2013). The tools will aid in gauging Edward’s decisional aptitude and factual understanding. The instruments will also appraise probable malingering and case-specific evidence.
Does he appear to meet the criteria for competency to stand trial? Why or why not?
Based on my analysis, Edward is unfit to stand trial. Before he committed the offense, he had been booked as an outpatient in my facility. Similarly, on the day he murdered his parents he had failed to take his psychotropic prescription. His medical records also indicated that he had a history of mental health treatment. The above illustrations show that he does not meet the criteria for a capability to stand trial because of his mental disorder (Greene & Wrightsman, 2013). I believe that Edward is an incompetent defendant by now. He should be treated before he stands for trial.
What happens to Edward if he is competent to stand trial?
If he is found to be incompetent to stand trial, Edward will be charged before a court of law. In the court, the judge will ensure that he comprehends his charges. Afterward, he will be requested to enter a plea. Edward will then be at liberty to enter an entreaty of not guilty or guilty. If he pleads not guilty, the prosecutor will have to substantiate beyond rational doubt that Edward is guilty of murdering his parents.
If he is found to be incompetent to stand trial, what happens with Edward?
If Edward is found incompetent to stand trial, the court may recommend him to get treatment. The recommendation will not exceed 60 days as required by the law (Greene & Wrightsman, 2013). Edward will be given a chance to contend against the directive for treatment. His advocate will be informed before medications are administered. As such, the court needs also to be persuaded that the treatment will enable Edward competent to stand trial within 60 days.
When conceptualizing this case, what theory of criminal behavior, out of the following theoretical areas, do you think best explains Edward’s behavior?
The psychological theory of criminal behavior can conceptualize Edwards’s case. The concept asserts that the offender’s conduct is a product of individual dissimilarities in thinking procedures. There are numerous diverse psychological conceptions. All these theories suggest that an individual’s opinions and outlooks influence their actions. The theories argue that difficulties in thinking may fuel criminal conduct. For instance, the case study illustrates that Edward has always struggled with complications associated with mental retardation. On the day he murdered his parents, he had failed to take his psychotropic prescription. Equally, he thought that her mother was a witch. Based on the above illustrations, it is apparent that Edward had bad feelings about his parents. His approaches motivated him to murder his parents.
If the judge asked you on the stand to assess Edward’s risk for future violence, how would you answer? Provide examples to support your position
There are higher chances that Edward will continue to exhibit violent behavior in the future. For example, Edward is not apologetic over the crime he committed. Equally, the motive behind his crime is yet to be identified. Unless he is treated and rehabilitated, he is likely to exhibit violent behaviors in the future. A psychiatrist should treat him to address his violent conduct. The psychiatrist should treat him using cognitive behavioral therapy (Vaughn, 2005). Through this approach, Edward will be helped to detect irrationality and rigidity in his thoughts. With the use of this approach, he will be encouraged to think positively and change their unconstructive behaviors. If adequate treatment and rehabilitation are not administered, Edwards’s risk for future violence is higher.
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Edens, J. (2001). Assessment of juvenile psychopathy and its association with violence: A critical review. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 19(1), 53−80.
Greene, E., & Wrightsman, L. (2013). Wrightsman’s psychology and the legal system(8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/ Wadsworth.
Vaughn, M. (2005). The construct of psychopathy and its potential contribution to the study of serious, violent, and chronic youth offending. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 3(3), 235−252.