Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Competency To Stand Trial
Steven K. Erickson
Competency to stand trial, also know as fitness to stand trial, is a concept of jurisprudence whereby criminal proceedings are postponed as a matter of constitutional due process when a defendant is incapacitated by a physical or mental condition to the degree that the individual cannot meaningfully appreciate or participate in his or her own defense. This doctrine evolves from the fundamental belief that it is morally unjust to punish defendants unable to understand or participate in the criminal proceedings against them. The vast majority of competency evaluations are concerned with mental rather than physical impairments, due to the fact that mental impairments tend to vary over time, whereas serious physical impairments tend to be chronic. Unlike the insanity defense, which is concerned with the defendant's mental capacity at the time of the alleged offense, competency issues may arise at anytime during a criminal proceeding and do not involve issues ...