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What is a competency hearing in a federal court or criminal…

What is a competency hearing...
What is a competency hearing in a federal court or criminal court? Also is this close to trial or is this something else?
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Answered in 1 hour by:
3/26/2017
Legal-Kal
Legal-Kal, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 600
Experience: Attorney at Law Offices of Khaled Issa
Verified

Good morning:

My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to provide general information regarding your question. As a reminder, all information provided here is general in nature and does not constitute advice.

Under federal law, a competency hearing is a hearing held in order to determine whether or not the charged individual (the defendant) is fit to stand trial. The Court, after the hearing, must determine if there is any mental disorder or problem that affects the defendant's ability to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings against him or her so much so that the defendant is unable to adequatly assist his or her attorney in their defense.

These hearings are not closed and are open to the general public, just like every other hearing held in federal court.

Do you have any questions based on this? If so, please ask.

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If not, please remember that experts here are not employees of JustAnswer and do not get credited for taking the time to provide general information to individuals until they click ACCEPT and rate the assistance (just the assistance and not the law, as experts have no control over that and are just messengers) with three stars or higher. Thank you.

***General information provided here is for general and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. It is always wise to consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction as they would be in the best position to assist***

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Oh and just one last thing why does it take so long to get to trial?

Well, that depends heavily on each individual case.

However, throughout the course of a criminal case, the parties must engage in discovery. Discovery is the exchange of all information in possession of the prosecution which they intend on using at trial. This can often be quite lengthy, especially if the criminal case is complicated in nature. It is only when a) all discovery is complete and b) all investigation that needs to occur based on the discovery by the defense is completed, that a criminal case can be set for trial.

On top of that, when there is an issue as to the defendant's ability to understand the nature of the proceedings and his or her competency, the Court can simply grant continuances to see if the individual becomes competent (or can order evaluations to determine competency).

So discovery, along with any other unforeseen circumstances, like the defendant's competency arising, can prolong a case (technically, indefinitely based on the competency, or lack thereof, of the defendant).

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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
does the time the defendant stays awaiting trial count towards the time in prison? Like if they spent 1 year awaiting trial and they got sentenced to 2 years would it technically be only one more year?

Generally, yes. Any time spent in custody prior to trial would be used as credit to offset any prison term an individual is sentenced so long as the judge orders pre-sentence credit.

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I will have to step away from my computer soon for a few hours.

I will be happy to continue answering your questions. However, since your initial question of a competency hearing has been answered, JustAnswer protocols dictate that the individual click accept and rate the assistance provided based on the initial question.

Thank you!

Legal-Kal
Legal-Kal, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 600
Experience: Attorney at Law Offices of Khaled Issa
Verified
Legal-Kal and 87 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 1 year ago
Of course! You answered all my questions actually very well I will be more then happy to provide a 5 star rating thank you!
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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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