If your family member has been charged with a crime that has a serious punishment, no matter how many plea bargains or settlements they try to make, you might think trying to get out of the charges by being ruled incompetent or going for an insanity defense would be best. However, being ruled incompetent or insane is not something you want to take lightly. After being put through a forensic psychiatric evaluation, they’ll still face potential punishment in the form of institutionalization. Here’s what it really means to be found incompetent.

What Really Happens

They’ll undergo a forensic psychiatric evaluation to see if they are mentally and emotionally capable of understanding what will happen during their trial. This could be as simple as talking to a psychiatrist trained in this type of evaluation, or it could involve sessions with the psychiatrist including reviews of all of their medical records. Determining whether they are competent or not competent can take some time, and they and you must be prepared to follow through with several meetings, consultations, and more. If they are deemed incompetent, they may be remanded to a state agency or psychiatric facility, depending on the state’s laws and the ruling of the psychiatrists involved in their evaluation. They may then have to undergo several more evaluations and possibly end up institutionalized for several years. So you can see that being ruled incompetent is not a way for your family member to get out of being charged.

Why Would Anyone Think This Is a Good Thing?

It’s common for people facing serious charges to be very scared of going to prison. They may think the person being charged can simply go home if ruled not competent. Or, they may think that institutionalization may be the lesser of two evils. The psychiatrists who handle these evaluations can tell when someone is faking being incompetent or insane (that’s one of the reasons the evaluations tend to be so in depth), and attempting to fake being not competent is not going to help your family member.

If you still think your family member truly isn’t competent to stand trial, contact a law firm that specializes in forensic psychiatric evaluations. If someone really is not competent to stand trial, they shouldn’t, and the law firm can help you deal with the situation.