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Assessment and Reporting for Pre-trial Issues


evidence relates to the legal test, including through any ambiguity there might be concerning the legal meaning of the test as it might apply to the defendant


Evidence will then be considered by judge or jury (depending on the jurisdiction) and will, in most jurisdictions, be accompanied by oral evidence. Te person found unfit to plead cannot then be tried and sentenced in the ordinary way.


In many jurisdictions a finding of unfitness to plead can result legally, in some manner, in transfer to hospital. If this is the case, then a recommendation will have to be made. Even if this is not the case in the jurisdiction at hand, then advice should be offered in regard to any measures, including therapeutic measures, which might be taken to reverse the defendant’s unfitness to plead, advising on the likelihood of success and the likely timescale required.


Psychological assessment in fitness to plead


Clinical psychologists, and neuropsychologists, can administer psychometry that will be relevant to determining fitness to plead, in terms of whether the defendant’s ability to understand information, concentrate for lengthy periods, communicate with their legal representatives, and form judgments in order to issue instructions, is impaired, plus whether they have adequate ability to cope with the rigours of cross examination.


• Current intellectual functioning (IQ), for example the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale (fourth edition). Individuals with low IQ are likely to have greater difficulty in understanding evidence


which may either require special measures to assist them at court, or may be such as to imply that the person is not fit to plead. (Te correct form to use in former British colonies that retain the English school system is the UK version)


• Language skills, for instance the British Picture Vocabulary Scale (version 2). Tis offers the assessor information concerning how well the individual understands a discussion, including


inferences about how well they may understand discussion with their legal representatives, and how they may be able to manage in Court


• Memory functioning, for example the Weschler Memory Scale, version 4, or for more compromised individuals, the Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test (third edition). Tis offers


information on the person’s ability to concentrate and retain information, which is important for their ability to follow proceedings


Conclusion


Be aware that assessment for issues which are relevant pre trial may also involve the assessment of relevant legal questions at trial. However, subsequently if there is conviction, for example, in terms of sentencing and fitness for execution, further clinical assessment will be required in order to offer evidence in relation to what amount to very different legal questions.


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