Title

Juveniles evaluated incompetence to proceed: Characteristics and quality of mental health professionals’ evaluations

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2004

Abstract

The authors studied quality of evaluations of juveniles whose competence to proceed was at issue before the court and characteristics of mental health professionals completing these reports. Many evaluators failed to address important legal issues and offered incomplete descriptions of the youths, their capacities, and the evaluation techniques used. Evaluators commented on legal competency factors in most reports, as required by law, but often failed to identify the cause of the noted incapacity or whether children met commitment criteria (also required by law). Although core competence-related abilities identified in Florida law were addressed in the majority of evaluations, assessments were less than optimal in other psycholegal and clinical domains. Seven recommendations are offered for conducting juvenile competency evaluations that are professionally sound and meet legal requirements.

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