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Proving Mental Incompetence

Mental Incompetence Criminal Lawyers in Monmouth County

In Monmouth County, New Jersey, if someone lacks the ability to understand the proceedings against them and they are unable to contribute to their own defense, then all proceedings must cease, so long as the incapacity continues. Mental incapacity will prevent someone from being tried, convicted or sentenced. It is important to know that mental incompetence and an insanity defense are two separate concepts. Someone could be mentally competent, yet still proffer the defense of insanity. If a defendant’s mental incapacity persists beyond three months of determination of incompetency, the court has to power to dismiss the charges altogether, or hold them in abeyance (i.e. temporarily suspend them). While the court will make the decision regarding mental incompetence, psychiatric reports will be taken into consideration.

When is Someone Deemed Mentally Incompetent?

To declare the defendant as mentally competent, the court must have to establish the following two elements:

  1. That the defendant can appreciate his presence in relation to time, place, and things; AND
  2. The elementary mental processes are such that understands the following seven (7) circumstances:
      • That he/she is in a court of justice charged with a criminal offense;
      • That there is a judge on the bench;
      • That there is a prosecutor present who will try to convict him of a criminal charge;
      • That he has a lawyer who will undertake to defend him/her against that charge;
      • That he/she will be expected to tell the the best of his/her mental ability the facts surrounding him/her at the time and place where the alleged violation was committed if he chooses to testify and understands the right not to testify;
      • That there is or might be a jury present to pass upon evidence adduced as to guilt or innocence of such charge or, that if he should choose to enter into plea negotiations or to plead guilty, that he comprehend the consequences of a guilty plea and that he be able to knowingly; intelligently and voluntarily waive those rights which are waived upon such entry of a guilty plea;
      • That he/she has the ability to participate in an adequate presentation of his/her defense.

Mental disease plagues a growing number of Americans as the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases is only on beginning to scratch the surface. Therefore, if you live in Monmouth County, and you believe that you or a loved one are not competent to defend yourself at trial, you should contact an experienced and competent attorney to protect your rights.