As a privately practicing psychologist in Augusta, GA, Joseph Frey works closely with courts to provide forensic consultations and psychological assessments. On a number of occasions, Joseph Frey of Augusta, GA, has evaluated defendants to determine their competency to stand trial.
The court system considers an individual competent to stand trial if he or she can understand the proceedings and assist in his or her own defense. If a reasonable question exists as to the defendant’s ability to do so, he or she may undergo a psychological evaluation.
An evaluation serves to determine whether or not the person can process information about the case, the charges, and the potential penalties and make informed decisions. Understanding does not need to be on a complex level, nor is it tied to the defendant’s ability to comprehend the language of the court. Legally, competency is present as long as the defendant can show that he or she can take in information related to the trial.
It is important to remember that a finding of competency or incompetency refers to the defendant’s mental state at the time of the trial. If a defendant was experiencing the effects of mental illness at the time of the alleged crime but symptoms have come under control, that individual may be competent to stand trial. Furthermore, if an evaluation determines the presence of mental illness that does not affect the defendant’s ability to comprehend the trial, the diagnosis does not translate to incompetency unless other significant factors are present.