Assessing Competency

The information provided in the scenario was actually very detailed; however it did not cover everything. There are a few things I would like to know about the suspect. One of the things discussed were his mental issues he has been suffering for quite some time. What the scenario does not specify is what is determined to be the cause of his illness. The scenario also mentions that he had been taking anti psychosis medicines however it does not say for how long or what kind.
As a psychologist it would be crucial for me to find this information out. The reason for this would be that if a patient is taking anti psychosis medicine for a period of time and abruptly stops taking them it could cause the patient to actually go into a psychotic state of mind. The scenario states that the patient was not taking the medicine at the time of the murder. As a psychologist I would want to find out how long he was taking them prior to the murder and when did he stop taking the medicine before the murders occurred.
As this persons psychologist in order to completely give them a full review and determine with the best of judgment how competent this person is I would also need to obtain all of the patients mental health records, what type of treatment has been given in the past, rather it was effective or ineffective, what the patients state of mind was at the time of the hospitalization, thus being pre and post functioning of the patient. The most important thing of all when assessing competency in this particular type of case is rather or not the patient understands the full consequences of their actions.

In order for a person to be legally declared incompetent to stand trial they must be evaluated and found to not understand the difference between right from wrong. It is morally and legally unethical to prosecute someone who does not understand what they are being prosecuted for. Some people who I would want to contact for collateral information on the patient would be those who have had the closest contact with him. First I would start off with the medical professionals that have had contact with him in the past such as his previous psychologists and doctors.
These people would be the best when obtaining the most professional and unbiased opinions about his mental health issues. Next I would interview the patients friends and get their personal opinions on what type of behavior they have experienced with the patient. The true character of the patient would be most accurately revealed here because they are friends not nessicarily people who have negatively affected him. If anything these would be the people who have most likely kept him in control of his feelings because they would be the ones who are his support network.
Friends can be someone he could talk to without personal judgment and ridicule. Family members of course would also be crucial in getting information about the patient because they are the ones who interact with him on a daily basis. In the scenario it says that he has been especially violent towards family members for example he had violently attacked his sister in an attempt to seriously hurt or otherwise kill her. Finally I might want to contact previous employers and teachers.
These people would be able to give their testimony about his character on a professional level. Past school teachers may be able to shed some light on his social status when it comes to interaction with his peers. For example I would find out things like was he a loner, was he social or anti-social, was he quiet or was he very out spoken, and did he ever show any type of aggressive behavior towards other students or teachers. He may have been teased in school so I would want to find out if that situation has occurred.
Those who are ridiculed by their peers will tend to act out in adverse ways. It is very hard to determine rather or not the patient is competent to stand trial or not. There is just too much information missing. I would need to conduct a better evaluation of the patient myself instead of going by the information obtained in the scenario report. For instance I would have to evaluate the patient by reviewing how his mental state is before taking the anti-psychosis medicine; and then conduct a study of how his behavior is when he is taking the anti-psychotics.
Then I would have to determine if any of his past behaviors are possibly linked to not taking the medicine or not. In the scenario it says that he was taking anti-psychosis medicine for a period of time however he was not taking them at the time of the murder. I would want to find out what type of medicine he was on, how it was working for him, and when he stopped. If he just abruptly stopped taking the medicine it could have caused his lucid state of mind and caused the actions that had occurred.
However if he was on anti-psychotic medicine and still believed stuff like the delusions he was experiencing pertaining to the mayor being part of the CIA and his sister needing to be destroyed then it is highly unlikely that he is even remotely competent to stand trial. In order to assess his competency I would need to ask a series of questions. I would want to ask things like : Can you explain to me the charges that are being pressed against you? Can you tell me some of the consequences that could occur if you are convicted?
What happened to your parents that has brought you to this situation? What could some of the verdicts be? What are some of the consequences of those verdicts? Basically just to get an understanding of rather or not the patient thoroughly understands the charges that are brought against them and some of the consequences of those charges. I would also want to determine if the patient understands the entire trial process and the role that each person plays within the trial. If I was called to testify on behalf of my professional opinion of the risk of future violence of the victim I would.
However I would make it clear that when the patient is taking his anti-psychosis medicine his symptoms are mild and for the most part controlled. I would also let the judge and jury know that he does suffer from his schizophrenia and that while he may be taking anti-psychosis medicine it is no guarantee that he will not have a future hallucination or outburst that could cause a violent reaction. After all he does suffer from an incurable disease and all he can do is manage it.
I could however provide information on the levels of violence that has occurred throughout his treatment starting from beginning to end and see if the violence has increased or lessened over the course of treatment. This type of thorough presentation would help the judge and jury to better understand and determine the risk that the patient may or may not cause to society. I would also provide my professional opinion on the competency level of the patient and rather or not he is fully competent to stand trial for his accused actions.

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