Competency of Offender Evaluating an Individuals Competence Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Competency of Offender

Evaluating an individuals competence to stand trial can become a daunting task when hideous crimes have been committed. From a forensic psychologist's point-of-view, complete unbiased, non-judgmental, and purely scientific fact must be considered when providing such an evaluation (Greene & Heilbrun, 2011). In the given case, many things are to be taken into consideration before being able to fully judge the extent of the disturbance in the offenders state of mind.

In order to make a complete judgment about the offender's competency to stand trial, there are a couple of things that I would like to ask him or know more about in order to make a better decision about the issue. I would want to know what his actions were a couple of weeks or days before he committed his crimes. This would give me an idea of how he was behaving before committing the crimes, and if he was showing any signs of vulnerability and/or any signs that could have tipped someone off in order to avoided the crime in the first place. I would also want to know how other people who knew him would describe him, as that would give me insight into how he was as an interactive person. Given that the crime was committed toward his parents, I would be immensely interested in how his relationship was with his parents. Regardless of his state of mind during the actual crime, knowing what and how his relationship with his parents were before, would give some insight into why the crime was committed and how much influence the actual mental illness had on murdering them. I would also want to know whether he had thoughts of violence against his parents before because that could be an indication of premeditated murder, which could invalidate his instability to stand trial (Kapardis, 2010). But most of all, I would want to know why he stopped taking his medication. Was it something that he personally chose to do, or was it because even while taking his medication he was already symptomatic. Knowing why he stopped taking the medication could say a lot about his previous and current state of mind (Ewing & McCann, 2006).

There are quite a few people that I would want to interview as collateral contact. In order to provide a complete picture of who this person really was, I would need to know just about everything about him. His past actions, and his previous behaviors will give a picture into the type of individual that he was, and how and why it got to the point where he eventually murdered his parents (Ewing & McCann, 2006). This evaluation of other's perspective will allow me to determine whether he could be prone to violence in the future. Given that he had a pretty extensive mental health history at such a young age, I would want to know as much about him as I could. Since he lived at home with his parents and was most likely home all the time given his illness and schizophrenic state, I would want to interview his neighbors. If he was the type of individual to want to stay home, then his neighbors would probably be the people who would be most likely to see him. There is no mention of any outside family members, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, or even grandparents, but if there were any who had contact with him, I would like to interview them since they lived outside the household, but could probably say something about him from a family perspective and from people who saw him grow up and knew how he was before he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Knowing about his past and his family history could give a clearer view into how he became to be who he became to be (Zapf & Roesch, 2009). These interviews would be giving an even clearer picture to how he could actually be given the proper medication and the adequate treatment he needs to come out of his hallucinogenic and delusional state of mind.

Taking the previously mentioned features would give me a clearer picture to determine competency to stand trial. Going from the direct information given, it can be difficult to analyze and determine whether he is competent enough to withstand a trial. He needs to know what it is that occurred, and even if he does know what occurred, he needs to fully understand how grave his actions were (Elkins, 2010). He needs to fully comprehend that he did not just get rid of a delusion or a hallucination, but he actually killed his parents. In order to apply a complete evaluation and diagnosis into the situation, everything needs to be taken into consideration (Zapf & Roesch, 2009). It is my personal evaluative decision that he is indeed not competent enough to stand a fair trial. There have been many factors that were involved in arriving at this decision. First off, he was in a complete delusional and hallucinogenic state. He was unaware of his surroundings and the true identity of his parents, his victims. This gives him the sense that he could have been committing crimes as a form of self-defense because he honestly thought that his safety was at risk. Beginning at a relatively young age, he was delusional and had delusional thoughts, so it can be assumed that given his pattern he will be most likely to repeat his actions and his delusions will continue.

In order to arrive at this conclusion I would first ask him if he was aware of everything that had occurred. He needs to fully comprehend the extent of the damage that was done by his actions, and first of all needs to even know what his actions were to even begin to analyze whether he full understood what was occurring (Zapf & Roesch, 2009). I would also want to know if anything was purposely premeditated. Premeditation means that there was some comprehensive thought that went into murdering his parents and therefore needs to be discussed fully before proceeding any further (Elkins, 2010). I would also ask him why he had stopped taking his antipsychotic drugs. As aforementioned, him not taking his psychotropic medications made him more vulnerable to his illness and therefore lead him to murdering his parents. Had he been on the medication, there would have probably been a different outcome, although admittedly, that is an assumption as I do not know what actual role the medication played in all this. But getting to the root of the issue, as to why he had actually stopped taking the medication, I would be able to fully comprehend what lead him to commit the crime, and even more so, if he is competent to stand trial. In needs to be noted however, that assigning him with incompetence to stand trial does not necessarily release him of the crime of murdering his parents, it does not by any measure declare him criminally insane, but it does mean that more careful measures need to be taken in order to fully restore his mental state to one in which he will fully comprehend his irreversible actions and the severity of his crime (Zapf & Roesch, 2009). The medication situation will also help me fully determine whether he was already having his delusional and hallucinatory problems while he was on his medication, leading to a better treatment plan in order to restore him back to a position of being able to finally understand his actions and the consequences associated with them, and finally be able to get a fair trial.

Given that he has committed violent crimes in the past that eventually led to the murdering of his parents, I would say that he is a violent individual…

Sources Used in Document:


Elkins, J.R. (2010). Criminal Law. In West Virginia University: College of Law. Retrieved August 8, 2011, from

Greene, E., & Heilbrun, K. (2011). Wrightman's Psychology and the Legal System. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning: Belmont, CA.

Ewing, C.P., & McCann, J.T. (2006). Minds on trial: Great cases in law and psychology. Oxford University Press: New York, NY.

Kapardis, A. (2010). Psychology and law: A critical introduction. Cambridge University Press: New York, NY.

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