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.
Police 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.
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