To face criminal charges in a Florida court, you must have the mental capability of understanding the charges against you and being able to be an active part of your own defense. You need to not suffer from a mental condition that renders you unable to comprehend what is happening. If there is concern by either your attorney or the opposing attorney, either one may request a competency hearing.
The Florida Statutes explains to determine competency, the court must hear from a mental health expert it appoints. This expert will assess you and determine if you have a mental illness that impacts your ability to comprehend what is happening in court. The expert must show that you cannot understand the charges against you and what could happen if the court finds you guilty of the charges. He or she must show the court that you do not understand how to behave properly in court, how to give relevant testimony or how to work with your attorney.
If the mental health expert finds that you are not competent to stand trial, he or she must make a recommendation for treatment. This might include confinement in a mental treatment facility or the prescription of medication that will control your mental health condition. The court may then act upon these recommendations and order you to follow them.
You cannot stand trial until you have the clearance from a mental health expert that you are competent and a ruling by the court that agrees with the assessment. This information is for education and is not legal advice.