Call Today 803.359.3301
Competency vs. Capacity in Criminal Trials

Competency vs. Capacity in Criminal Trials

When it comes to the world of crime and courtrooms, it can feel a bit like learning a new language. Two terms you might hear are "competency to stand trial" and "capacity to conform conduct." These phrases sound pretty fancy, right? But don't worry, we're going to break them down in simple, everyday language.

First up is "competency to stand trial." This term is all about understanding. To be competent, or able, to stand trial, someone must understand what's happening in court. They need to know they're on trial, what the charges are, and how the court process works.

For example, imagine you're playing a game, but you don't know the rules. You wouldn't be competent to play, right? That's what competency to stand trial is about. It's making sure the person on trial knows the 'rules of the game.'

On the other hand, "capacity to conform conduct" is a term used when we're talking about someone's mental state. This has to do with whether or not someone was able, mentally, to follow the law when they committed the crime.

Both "competency to stand trial" and "competency to conform conduct" decisions are made by the court considering the mental health of the defendant. This can include reviewing any prior medical or mental health records, school records, and also the results of any court-ordered mental health examination or examination conducted by the defense.

So why do these terms matter? Well, they can play a big role in a criminal trial. If someone is not competent to stand trial, it may not be possible for the government to bring the case to court at all. And if they didn't have the capacity to conform their conduct, they might have a significant defense for why they broke the law.

Remember, everyone deserves a fair shot in court. That's why understanding these terms, and others like them, is so important. If you or someone you know is involved in a criminal case, make sure to get a good defense lawyer who knows the 'language' of the courtroom. With their help, you'll be better equipped to navigate the tricky waters of a trial.

If you have questions regarding how mental health issues might pertain to you or your loved one's criminal case in South Carolina you should reach out to us. Attorney James Snell frequently includes mental health experts, such as clinical psychologists or psychiatrists, to help build a defense for his client. He can talk to you about the exact legal standards applied by South Carolina criminal courts, including "Blair" hearings for competency and "McNaughton" hearings for criminal competency. He's also able to help with criminal charges in any city or county in South Carolina, in both state and federal court.


Get Started Today

We're Available to Schedule Immediate, Same-Day Consultations
    • Please enter your name.
    • This isn't a valid phone number.
    • Please enter your email address.
      This isn't a valid email address.
    • Please make a selection.
    • Please enter a message.