Dr. Stacey Wood can help you determine if your client possesses the competency to stand trial. Dr. Wood is a leading neuropsychologist in California and nationwide. An accomplished academic with deep experience in a variety of legal proceedings including death penalty cases, Dr. Wood is an ideal fit for your firm. See Dr. Wood’s curriculum vitae.
Competency to Stand Trial in California
Under California Penal Code section 1368, the court may appoint an expert to assist in determining whether such a reasonable doubt exists. The legal standards under California Penal Code section 1367 must be satisfied in order to initiate competency proceedings in a criminal case. A powerful asset to any legal team working on a competency to stand trial motion is the consultation of a forensic neuropsychologist with an expertise on mental capacity.
Dr. Wood’s Competency to Stand Trial Experience
Dr. Stacey Wood is a leading researcher, expert witness, and scholar in the areas of forensic neuropsychology, decisional capacity, and mental capacity. Dr. Wood has consulted on competency issues for legal teams in California and across the country including death penalty cases and cases involving criminal charges against older defendants. A comfortable and clear communicator in court, Dr. Wood provides value beyond tremendous credibility as a true member of your team with the ability to assist in the whole process.
Contact a proven trial competency expert for your next case.
Why choose Dr. Wood for competency to stand trial matters?
Competency and Capacity Expert
Dr. Wood’s focus in the field of psychology is decisional capacity, which makes her an excellent complement to your legal team. Dr. Wood can help you understand the medical evidence, conduct evaluations and is a clear communicator in court.
Well-balanced Courtroom Experience
Dr. Wood has provided expert decision and competency analysis to legal teams across the country on a variety of cases. Based in California, Dr. Wood has courtroom experience in a wide-range of criminal and civil proceedings.
Lead Editor of ABA Handbook on Capacity
Dr. Wood is a leader in the psychology academia but has also been called up by the American Bar Association to serve as Lead Editor and major contributor on guides for lawyers on issues of diminished capacity.
Interested in working with Dr. Wood on a competency to stand trial case?
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Dr. Stacey Wood
Professor of Psychology, Scripps College
My scholarly interests are in the areas of neuropsychology and decision-making from a lifespan development perspective. I am interested in how changes in the brain, emotion, and motivation interact across the lifespan to influence how we make decisions. I am especially interested in taking theoretical work and applying it to everyday types of decisions. One such application is in the area of assessing decision-making capacity for the courts. An understanding of cognitive mechanisms that may underlie specific types of legal decisions (i.e. testamentary, financial) can help us to design better tools and be more effective as witnesses.
Competency to Stand Trial: Extended Information
Competency to Stand Trial Definition California
Under California law, a defendant is mentally incompetent to stand trial if, as a result of a mental disorder or developmental disability, he cannot: (1) understand the nature of the criminal proceedings; or (2) assist counsel in the conduct of a defense in a rational manner. California Penal Code § 1367(a).
California Penal Code, Section 1367
California Penal Code, Section 1367 deals with an inquiry into the competence of a defendant before trial or after conviction regarding doubt about the mental competence of the defendant. The Section’s full text can be read below:
(a) A person cannot be tried or adjudged to punishment or have his or her probation, mandatory supervision, postrelease community supervision, or parole revoked while that person is mentally incompetent. A defendant is mentally incompetent for purposes of this chapter if, as a result of mental disorder or developmental disability, the defendant is unable to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings or to assist counsel in the conduct of a defense in a rational manner.
(b) Section 1370 shall apply to a person who is charged with a felony or alleged to have violated the terms of probation for a felony or mandatory supervision and is incompetent as a result of a mental disorder. Section 1370.01 shall apply to a person who is charged with a misdemeanor or misdemeanors only, or a violation of formal or informal probation for a misdemeanor, and the judge finds reason to believe that the defendant is mentally disordered, and may, as a result of the mental disorder, be incompetent to stand trial. Section 1370.1 shall apply to a person who is incompetent as a result of a developmental disability and shall apply to a person who is incompetent as a result of a mental disorder, but is also developmentally disabled. Section 1370.02 shall apply to a person alleged to have violated the terms of his or her postrelease community supervision or parole.
(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 759, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2015.)
California Penal Code, Section 1368
(a) If, during the pendency of an action and prior to judgment, or during revocation proceedings for a violation of probation, mandatory supervision, postrelease community supervision, or parole, a doubt arises in the mind of the judge as to the mental competence of the defendant, he or she shall state that doubt in the record and inquire of the attorney for the defendant whether, in the opinion of the attorney, the defendant is mentally competent. If the defendant is not represented by counsel, the court shall appoint counsel. At the request of the defendant or his or her counsel or upon its own motion, the court shall recess the proceedings for as long as may be reasonably necessary to permit counsel to confer with the defendant and to form an opinion as to the mental competence of the defendant at that point in time.
(b) If counsel informs the court that he or she believes the defendant is or may be mentally incompetent, the court shall order that the question of the defendant’s mental competence is to be determined in a hearing which is held pursuant to Sections 1368.1 and 1369. If counsel informs the court that he or she believes the defendant is mentally competent, the court may nevertheless order a hearing. Any hearing shall be held in the superior court.
(c) Except as provided in Section 1368.1, when an order for a hearing into the present mental competence of the defendant has been issued, all proceedings in the criminal prosecution shall be suspended until the question of the present mental competence of the defendant has been determined.
If a jury has been impaneled and sworn to try the defendant, the jury shall be discharged only if it appears to the court that undue hardship to the jurors would result if the jury is retained on call.
If the defendant is declared mentally incompetent, the jury shall be discharged.
(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 759, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2015.)
What is the Distinction between Insanity and Competency to Stand Trial?
Although these terms have different meanings, one way to understand their variance is competency is determined by a judge, while insanity is determined by a jury.
Ruth Lee Johnson, J.D., writing for Psychology Today explains “Competency is determined by whether the defendant can understand the nature and consequences of the criminal proceedings against him. Specifically, the Supreme Court has held that the defendant must (1) have the sufficient present ability to consult with his or her lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding; and (2) he or she must have a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceeding against him or her.
Meanwhile, the definition of insanity varies between states, and concerns the criminal acts allegedly committed by the defendant. (Read this blog post to learn about the different definitions of insanity.) For example, some states determine insanity by whether the defendant understood the nature and quality of his acts or did not know that his acts were wrong. Other states have different definitions. Some states do not have an insanity defense at all.”