Predictor variables in competency to stand trial decisions

Law Hum Behav. 2003 Aug;27(4):423-36. doi: 10.1023/a:1024089117535.


Clinicians possess significant discretion in competency to stand trial assessment. Therefore, it is paramount to explore the contribution of individual variables to ensure that the decision-making process is devoid of bias and solely relates to the legal criterion. To test for the possibility of bias in clinical decision-making, we examined the predictive efficiency of clinical, criminological, and sociodemographic variables in a sample of 468 criminal defendants referred for competency evaluations. Only clinical diagnostic variables and employment status were significant predictors. This finding supports the idea that examiner decisions of competency appear to be unbiased and relate primarily to a defendant's functional ability.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Legal Case

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alabama
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Decision Making*
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Judicial Role
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors