What if Someone is Found Incompetent to Stand Trial?
via PsychLaw Journal
Being found incompetent to stand trial does not mean a person will never face his charges. Incompetent to Stand Trial is not a legal defense like Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity is. It is a matter of legal fact that must be decided by the court.
I have been asked numerous times if James Holmes will escape punishment if he is found incompetent. Many people are legitimately assuming the issue of competence will be raised in his case, and it is understandable for people to be worried that it might be a loophole in the law, or a way for him to avoid punishment.
A little background on legal competence to stand trial: it is incredibly important for an individual to understand what is happening in court, to be able to think rationally about courtroom proceedings, and to be able to work with an attorney to assist in developing a defense. In Colorado, where Holmes will be tried, he must have a rational and factual understanding of the criminal proceedings against him and he must have sufficient present ability to rationally cooperate with his attorney to assist in his defense. If he does not have either of these abilities, it must be determined that his “incompetence” is caused by either a mental disability or developmental disability.
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