Forensic psychologists deal with two particularly controversial issues: judging whether a defendant is competent to stand trial and whether a defendant was legally insane at the time he or she committed an offense. Both issues require evaluations of the defendant’s mental state. A defendant is deemed competent to stand trial if he or she has the ability to function with full awareness and understanding in a trial. If a defendant cannot assist in his or her own defense, or does not understand the legal proceedings, he or she usually is declared incompetent. How does a forensic psychologist determine a defendant’s mental competence? Does mental illness or mental retardation automatically signify a defendant is incompetent? What if a defendant is competent with medication, but incompetent without it?
The insanity defense also raises a number of controversial issues. A successful insanity defense proves that a defendant was unable to distinguish right from wrong or understand the consequences of his or her actions. This defense usually stirs fierce debate because it is difficult to assess insanity, especially at the time of the crime, which could have been months or years before the trial.
For this assignment, review the Week 4 Application Case Study in the Learning Resources and analyze whether the insanity defense or a claim of incompetence to stand trial might be more successful in this case. This assignment is due by Day 7 of Week 5. You should begin analyzing the case now to submit the assignment by next week.
To prepare for this Assignment:
The Assignment (3-page minimum):
Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list for all resources, including those in the Learning Resources for this course.
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