Police Union Lobby’s for New Legislation Around Rule 11


When a defendant is on trial and claims mentally incompetent, they undergo a trial under what’s known as Rule 11. Rule 11 is a two-part test that sees if the defendant is mentally competent to go through trial proceedings, understand them, and assist in their own defense. This is different than a defense claiming insanity.

If the Rule 11 deems the defendant incompetent, they are then sent to a mental facility. Oftentimes, that facility releases them shortly after for various reasons.

The facility they are sent to and how long they remain there are determined by 4 criteria: if they are a danger to themselves, a danger to others, persistently and/or acutely disabled, or if they are severely disabled.

man being arrestedPolice unions are pushing to change the release process because officers are having to keep coming back to those who are deemed incompetent, sent to a facility, and released from the facility. The person then continues to break the law, requiring police attention.

The legislation being drafted proposes that the courts be involved in the releasing decisions of the facilities when it comes to those deemed incompetent under Rule 11. Currently, mental-health professionals are the only ones involved in the releasing decisions as the courts give up their authority over defendants after they are released to a mental-health facility. They are also proposing a new process the defendant would go through before they are released from the facilities.

Those drafting the legislation stress that the idea isn’t to cut out the mental-health professionals, rather just to keep the courts and law enforcement included in the loop. Oftentimes, the Rule 11 rulings create an infinite loop of arrests and facility releases.

When discussing mental health and law enforcement, there is no easy, clear-cut answers, but there is constantly room to improve upon practices. The police union are lobbying to improve on existing practices involved in Rule 11 processes.

If you or someone you love is mentally ill and involved in a case, it is vital to have someone defending who cares about their client. At Garcia Law Firm, we care about our clients and provide the best defense possible. Contact us if you would like to know more about our services.

More on this story here.

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, Law Enforcement, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged , , , |

Understanding Arizona’s Rule 11


In the state of Arizona, mentally ill defendants have a right under Rule 11 to be examined for mental fitness concerning trial. If the defendant is suspected to be mentally incompetent, meaning unable to understand trial proceedings and assist in their defense, they will undergo a Rule 11 hearing. There must be substantial evidence of this mental incompetence before the defendant is granted a Rule 11 hearing. In this hearing, doctors will determine the mental competency of the defendant.

This process usually consists of two doctors performing the evaluation. Questions are asked in this evaluation such as:

  • What is the role of the jury?
  • What is the role of the judge?
  • Do you know what a plea bargain is?
  • Do you understand the charges placed against you?

court trialThe doctors then come to an agreement on whether or not the defendant is competent enough to understand trial and assist in their defense. If the doctors do not agree, a third doctor will be brought in to assist in the determination. In some cases, the doctors can rule the defendant incompetent at the time of the hearing, but they believe the defendant will be able to understand the trial through either medication or education. In those instances, the defendant will undergo the process for around 6 months.

After the doctor evaluation, the defendant will be brought back to court to determine whether they will be sent to a facility or if the case will be dismissed. Determining whether the defendant is sent to a facility is based on four criteria: is the defendant a harm to themselves or society, persistently and/or acutely disabled, or if they are severely disabled.

Fair trial is a constitutional right and Rule 11’s aim is to uphold that right. If you or someone you love is mentally ill and being charged, give us a call today. As experienced, caring attorneys, we specialize in mentally ill defense and have the tools to make sure you receive a fair trial.

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, Mental Health Defenses, Rule 11 | Tagged , , , , |