Psycholegal abilities and restoration of competence to stand trial

Behav Sci Law. 2012 Nov-Dec;30(6):710-28. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2040. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Criminal defendants adjudicated incompetent to stand trial are typically hospitalized for competence restoration in state institutions. Prolonged restoration hospitalizations involve civil rights concerns and increasing financial costs, and there remains interest in determining which individuals are likely to be successfully restored. We retrospectively reviewed hospital records of 455 male defendants admitted to a forensic treatment center for competence restoration in an effort to determine whether psychiatric diagnoses, demographic factors, or psycholegal abilities were predictive of successful or failed restoration. At varying stages of restoration efforts, psychotic disorder, mental retardation, and previous state hospitalization predicted unsuccessful restoration, while substance use and personality disorders were predictive of successful restoration. Psycholegal abilities were predictive of successful restoration and appeared to form a continuum, with basic behavior and outlook, factual legal understanding, and rational attorney assistance factors demonstrating progressively increased importance in successful restoration.

Publication types

  • Legal Case
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Civil Rights
  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Forensic Psychiatry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Hospitalization / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Insanity Defense
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mental Competency / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Supreme Court Decisions
  • United States
  • Young Adult