Civil Competence Exam

A civil competence exam is administered to someone who struggles with reality and has been accused of a major crime. This test is usually ordered by the court judge and administered by a licensed psychologist.

Question: What is a Civil Competence Exam?

Answer: Civil competence refers to the ability to make decisions about one’s own life. This includes one’s daily care; medical treatments; legal transactions; financial transactions; and so forth. In our society, being of legal adult age generally automatically qualifies you as competent.  However, if there is strong evidence that the adult person is not able to make rational decisions, that person might be found incompetent. It is most often a family member who raises the issue of civil competence; but the state, or other relevant party, might do so as well.

Dr. Deloney performs civil competence exams to determine competency of someone to stand trial. 

Incompetency refers not to mental state at the time of the crime, but rather the mental state during trial proceedings.  If the defendant is able to understand the criminal proceedings, they are competent and can be convicted.  Many times counseling is a suggestion to assist when a defendant is believed to be incompetent.

Competency Exam:

In order to be competent, the defendant must be able to do the following:

  • adequately communicate with defense counsel
  • understand and process information
  • make decisions regarding the case, and
  • understand the elements of the charges, the gravity of the charges, and the possible penalties.

A defendant’s education level, language difficulties, and other communication challenges are usually not sufficient to support incompetency.

For additional information on competency exams and what is means to stand competent in a trial, see the following link.

In addition to her other services, Dr Deloney conducts civil competence exams by request only. Contact Dr. Deloney to schedule a competency exam for you or a family member.