Relationships between patient-level factors and criteria for fitness to stand trial

  • Teodora Prpa Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario
  • Heather Marie Moulden McMaster University & St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
  • Liane Taylor St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
  • Gary Andrew Chaimowitz McMaster University & St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton

Abstract

In Western criminal justice systems, proceedings may be halted if an individual is deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. As a prerequisite to adjudication fitness to stand trial can be evaluated through structured or unstructured assessments. Previousstudies suggest limited use of structured assessments in clinical practice. Few studies have looked at the success of unstructured measures of psycholegal abilities, and fewer still have investigated the influence of individual variables on criteria for fitness to stand trial. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between variables relevant to opining fitness as determined by previous research and the criteria for fitness to stand trial. The study yielded significant correlations between the three criteria for fitness to stand trial and the following variables: impaired mental status during assessment, presence of intellectual disability, nature of index offence, socioeconomic status, and all unstructured measures of psycholegal abilities. These results suggest that unstructured clinician assessment of fitness to stand trial can be successful at determining fitness and fulfillment of the three underlying criteria, and further clarify the role of specific symptoms on opinions of unfitness. Future directions for research in the areas of structured professional judgment and fitness restoration are discussed.

References

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Published
2018-10-03
Section
Original Article