Beyond competence and sanity: the influence of pretrial evaluation on case
J. I. Warren, B. Rosenfeld and W. L. Fitch,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
22(3): 379-88, 1994.
A preliminary investigation of the impact of pretrial evaluations of trial competence and legal
insanity, and the variables that mediate case outcomes is reported. Twenty-four percent of defendants
evaluated as incompetent to stand trial were found competent by the court or were tried without the
question of competence being adjudicated. Charges were dropped in more than half of the cases in
which an evaluator considered a defendant incompetent, most frequently in cases involving
misdemeanor charges and/or the clinician considered it unlikely that the defendant could be restored
to competence. One third of defendants considered to meet criteria for legal insanity subsequently
were acquitted NGRI; more than half did not present an insanity defense and were ultimately
convicted or plea bargained a guilty verdict. The defendants considered to meet the criteria for legal
insanity were more likely than their mentally ill but not insane counterparts to have treatment ordered
in lieu of incarceration. The defendant's age and race and the evaluator's professional discipline were
unrelated to case outcome.