Insanity and Incompetency

Incompetent to Proceed vs. Insanity in Criminal Case

Criminal charges are put on hold in any case where the defendant is Incompetent to Proceed (Incompetency) or Insane in Arapahoe, Denver or Jefferson County. Where the line between these two conditions is drawn will affect how the case proceeds, because they serve different purposes in a criminal case.

Incompetency, or Incompetent to Proceed, is governed by C.R.S. 16-8.5-102, and the statutes following. At the point the court, the prosecutor or the defense attorney raises Incompetency, all proceedings will halt, and the judge will order a competency evaluation. A determination for competency deals with the mental health of the defendant at the time of the claim of Incompetency, not the time of the crime. The evaluation will be done by a mental health professional selected by the court. If the defendant is deemed incompetent to proceed, the defendant will be held in a treatment facility until he is restored to competency.

Insanity is governed by C.R.S. 16-8-101.5, and the statutes following. Once notice is given at arraignment in Douglas, Adams or Broomfield County, the plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity will stop all progress of the Assault, C.R.S. 18-3-202, 203, and 204; Murder (Homicide), C.R.S. 18-3-101, or other type of case. This plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity is a bar to any conviction for the crime and relates to the time the crime occurred, not necessarily the present time. It is a plea which asserts that the defendant was not capable of distinguishing right from wrong at the time of the crime. It is a hard burden to meet, and frequently denied by the judge after a hearing.

Claims of This Type will Normally Result in Lengthy Incarceration

The downside of these mental incompetency / insanity pleas is that the defendant will normally be held in custody for a lengthy period, before eligible for release once competency or sanity is restored. It could be dozens of years or a lifetime. Courts, District Attorneys, psychiatrists and psychologists are highly suspicious of claims that a person is not mentally capable to proceed or was not in their right mind at the time of the crime. These are difficult claims and pleas to support, and even if successful, it is not all good news.

Competency and Insanity claims involve complex hearings involving nonexpert (lay witnesses) and expert testimony with a high burden of proof. They will involve private experts in psychiatry and psychology, who are expensive. Aware of the history of abuse of claims of this nature, you can expect a great deal of pushback from the government and their experts.

If you or a family member are facing criminal charges and believe a claim of Incompetency or Insanity is warranted due to mental health issues, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at the O'Malley Law Office, P.C., at 303-731-0719 today. Together, we can protect your future.

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