If you or a loved one have been arrested for a State of Florida offense you may be entitled to a competency hearing if there are reasonable grounds to believe that you are not competent.
What Test Is Applied to Determine Competency to Stand Trial?
The proper standard in determining whether a competency hearing is required is whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a defendant may be incompetent.
Basic constitutional rights, incorporated in Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.210, prohibit criminal proceedings from continuing when an individual is mentally incompetent at any material stage. To do otherwise would deny a defendant his constitutional right to a fair trial.
The test uniformly applied to determine competency to stand trial is whether a defendant has the ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding–and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him.
If There Are Reasons to Believe That a Defendant May Be Incompetent Is He Entitled to a Hearing?
According to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.210, a person accused of an offense or a violation of probation or community control who is mentally incompetent shall not be prosecuted while incompetent. Where a judge has reasonable grounds to suggest that a defendant is not mentally competent to proceed, the burden falls on the judge to conduct a competency hearing to assure that the defendant is not unconstitutionally denied a fair trial by prosecuting him while incompetent. If, at any material stage of a criminal proceeding, the judge, or counsel for the defendant or for the state, has reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant is not mentally competent to proceed, the judge shall immediately enter its order setting a time for a hearing to determine the defendant’s mental condition.
Why Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
The law and rules are highly complex. It is important to act quickly and secure legal representation. An experienced defense attorney will increase your chances of getting the relief you deserve.
If you have been charged with a crime, you may be facing a long prison sentence. Not every attorney has the qualifications and experience to handle a competency hearing. You need a qualified and experienced defense lawyer to fight for your right to a fair trial.
Do You or Someone You Know Need Help With a Competency Hearing?
If you or someone you know has been arrested, you are probably overwhelmed and confused as to what to do next. It is critical that you get help from an experienced attorney. Competency hearings are complex and require the help of someone with a competency hearing experience. An experienced competency hearing attorney will be able to help you navigate through the system and get you the best possible outcome.
If you have been accused of an offense or a violation of probation or community control and are mentally incompetent to proceed, you should not be prosecuted while incompetent. Contact a criminal defense lawyer and request a competency hearing.
Why Fernandez & Hernandez?
If you or someone you know has been arrested in the Tampa Bay area and need help, Fernandez & Hernandez will provide a free consultation and help guide you through the process. The attorneys at Fernandez and Hernandez have experience in competency hearings and will work vigorously to protect your rights. Attorneys Daniel J. Fernandez and Martin J. Hernandez are bilingual as well. If you or a loved one need help to get the outcome you deserve, call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353.