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Incompetency: Is Being Declared Incompetent Different From an Insanity Plea?

May 9, 2024
By The Wiseman Law Firm

In the Florida legal system, the distinctions between incompetency to stand trial and the insanity defense are crucial for defending criminal cases. Incompetency refers to a defendant’s current ability to understand court proceedings and actively participate in their defense. In contrast, the insanity defense focuses on the defendant’s mental state at the time of the crime, assessing their ability to discern right from wrong.

An experienced attorney plays a pivotal role in such cases, skillfully managing the legal nuances and ensuring your rights are upheld. At The Wiseman Law Firm, our talented attorney, Simon Wiseman, has a proven track record of helping his clients defend their rights and achieve favorable outcomes for their cases in Florida. Our team is passionate about assisting our clients and makes ourselves available 24/7 to ensure you feel supported throughout the legal process. 

Incompetent to Stand Trial Versus the Insanity Defense

In criminal court, a defendant must be competent to proceed through the various stages of a case, including trial and all pre-trial matters. Competency involves the defendant’s ability to understand the following:

  • The charges and potential penalties they face
  • The nature of the legal process
  • How to communicate effectively with their attorney
  • How to behave appropriately in court
  • Keep their testimonies relevant

Under Florida law, section 916.12, a defendant is considered incompetent if they cannot rationally consult with their attorney or understand the charges against them. Court appointed Mental health professionals evaluate the defendant’s mental state. If they are found incompetent, the trial is paused until their competency is restored.

On the other hand, a not guilty verdict by reason of insanity absolves a defendant of criminal responsibility, focusing on their mental state at the time of the offense. This defense requires demonstrating that the defendant’s mental state impaired their understanding that their actions were unlawful. 

How a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

Partnering with a skilled criminal defense attorney is critical for navigating the complexities of a criminal case, especially those involving sensitive mental health matters. A few of the ways our seasoned attorney can assist you include the following:

  • Evaluating Competency and Insanity: Our team coordinates with mental health professionals to assess whether a defendant is competent to stand trial or eligible for an insanity defense, tailoring our approach to each client’s needs.
  • Legal Knowledge: Our attorney offers a deep understanding of Florida’s unique laws and procedures, crafting strategies to address the specifics of your case
  • Representation in Court: Attorney Wiseman can advocate on your behalf, presenting arguments, cross-examining witnesses, and striving to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
  • Communication with all Parties: Your attorney can manage all communications with judges and prosecutors, which includes filing motions, attending hearings, and negotiating plea deals.
  • Guidance and Support: We provide ongoing support to help defendants understand the legal process, make informed decisions, and cope with the stress and complexities of the criminal justice system.
  • Protecting Your Rights: Throughout the legal process, we ensure your rights are protected and that you are treated with fairness and respect.

By leveraging his knowledge and resources, our criminal defense attorney, Simon Wiseman, plays a critical role in helping his clients achieve the best possible outcomes. 

Partner With a Highly Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney at The Wiseman Law Firm

If you find yourself facing charges or questioning the distinctions between incompetency and insanity defenses in Florida, it’s crucial to have an aggressive legal advocate on your side. Contact the experienced criminal defense attorney at The Wiseman Law Firm to safeguard your rights throughout every step of the legal process.

Call us today at (407) 420-4647 or fill out our contact form. Consulting with a highly qualified attorney is your first step towards ensuring your rights and future are protected.

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