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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26013
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Is there a way to prevent the possibility of a state court

Resolved Question:

Is there a way to prevent the possibility of a state court ordered mental
evaluation in case a person gets criminal charges? IF a person had one
in the past and got into trouble again, would they have to have one?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

If a person has had a psych evaluation on a previous case, it does not necessarily follow that a judge will order it on the new case. Generally, however, a judge will want one when something about the defendant's background and history makes it appear that the defendant may be a likely candidate for disposition involving a special kind of treatment program. There are now in many states, for example, Mental Health Courts. These are specialty court programs that understand that it may be more difficult for people with a certain kind of mental health problem to stay out of trouble than it would be for someone else, so the court is designed to address both the medical and the criminal justice issues in the same place.

There are other reasons for the court to order them as well, particularly if the defendant or his lawyer raise the issue of a condition as a possible defense to the charges. But they are not done automatically just because they were once done in the past. If a judge orders you to cooperate and get evaluated, you or your lawyer could object to it being necessary if you think it's unfair, but if the judge insists on it, you would have to comply with the order, the way you would have to comply with any other order made by the judge. Failure to do so would result in your being remanded into custody where you'd remain until you were willing to be taken to be evaluated and to comply with the order.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Also, if the person were currently in a mental health treatment program,

would that prevent the evaluation? Any circumstance that would?

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

There is nothing that would prevent the evaluation if the court insists on getting it done. This isn't to say that your attorney couldn't conference this and propose a reason that the judge may be inclined to agree with. There might be one. But whether it will work or not will depend upon why the judge feels the need for it in the first place and why the defendant doesn't. As I tried to say before the ordering of a psych evaluation is never done just because the court has the power to do it. There is always a reason and it's always linked in some way to what might happen with the case.

If the person were currently in a mental health treatment program and you were willing to sign a release so that your doctor could freely discuss your condition with the judge and/or you lawyer and your DA, that could, depending on what the doctor tell them, make the psych evaluation unnecessary.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX the person was prior mentally evaluated by a court in a prior

criminal charges case, and was found to need mental treatment via that

evaluation, and got it, and then another case came up much later, would

that be enough to trigger the evaluation, or would they be in the same

position as anyone else?(Referring to your answer with reasons for

ordering an evaluation as part of someone's background which would lead to this).

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

It wouldn't be an "automatic." Might also depend upon how old the first psych eval was. If it was done last year, for example, there would be less of a reason for the court to insist on one than if it was done 5 years ago.

There are a lot of things that might trigger a judge to want a psych evaluation done. But most times it is not necessary. So the only sure answer I can tell you is that it defintely does not have to be ordered just because it was ordered once before.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

And is a previous mental condition a reason, and also is the reason the

defense as you said?

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

There are too many possible reasons for me to guess at in the absence of any factual information. Psych evaluations are generally not ordered. However, anything could be a reason if it makes sense to the judge to order one under the particular circumstances of a particular case.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

OK, so is a previous mental condition no more of a reason than for someone with no

mental history, all things being equal otherwise?

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

Yes, I can agree with that, all other things being equal.
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