The relationship between criminal charges, diagnoses, and psycholegal opinions among federal pretrial defendants

Behav Sci Law. 2001;19(4):565-82. doi: 10.1002/bsl.454.


This study analyzed data from 1710 criminal defendants referred by federal courts throughout the United States. We examined 12 categories of criminal charges with respect to diagnosed psychopathology and opinions related to competence to stand trial (CST) and criminal responsibility (CR) at the time of the alleged offense. Overall, 18% of the present sample were found to be incompetent to stand trial, while 12% were found to be not criminally responsible or 'insane.' In this study, crimes were associated with rates of psychopathology and rates of opinions regarding CST and CR. The findings of this study suggest that individuals who are charged with different crimes have different mental states and psychopathology and are therefore found to have differential rates of competence and sanity.

Publication types

  • Legal Case

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Insanity Defense / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mental Competency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology