Why Would Someone Need a Psychological Evaluation Before a Trial?

Understanding a person’s mind can help determine if they can be help responsible for their actions.


Our criminal defense lawyers get asked this question relatively regularly, about why anyone would need to have a psychological evaluation done before going to trial. It’s actually an interesting subject, and so we’ve decided to explain to our readers in the hopes that it answers a few of your questions, and maybe clears up a few misconceptions.


So what exactly is a psychological evaluation, anyway?


A psychological evaluation, which is also sometimes called a mental health evaluation, is a series of tests, interviews and evaluations done by professionals to determine a person’s state of mind. The process is long, involving numerous psychologicall and psychiatric tests, which is costly and time consuming (that’s one of the reasons why the court doesn’t order these unless it determines that they’re really necessary.)


Ideally, one goal of a psychological evaluation is to figure out whether or not someone is mentally competent to stand trial. (If they’re not, it wouldn’t be fair to hold them criminally responsible for their actions, and sentencing them to jail or prison wouldn’t be helpful or appropriate.)


Where does the evaluation happen, and who does it?


Here in Michigan, mental health evaluations are done by Board Certified forensic Psychiatrists. They take place primarily at Michigan’s Forensics Center in Ann Arbor. This is a 210-bed psychiatric facility that provides diagnostic services to the criminal justice system. It also provides psychiatric treatment to criminal defendants determined to be incompetent to stand trial, or acquitted by reason of insanity.


However, there are many instances where experienced defense attorneys supplement these court ordered evaluations, by hiring their own evaluators to conduct tests. In this case, the forensic psychologist who conducts the tests will be an expert in their field, who can testify as an expert witness for the defense during the trial. The Kronzek Firm also has a team of expert mental health evaluation experts that we involve when necessary. Our team includes social workers, psychologists, neuro-psychologists and psychiatrists.


Would a psychological evaluation be useful to my trial?


That isn’t a question we could answer without sitting down with you to discuss your case, and looking through all the information related to the case. Psychological evaluations are very important when they’re necessary, but there’s no way to know whether they are or not, without a detailed knowledge of the case. If you have questions about your mental competency, you need to discuss them with your criminal defense attorney.


The issue of competency is a very complex one. Gone are the days when someone can just “plead insanity” to avoid prison. And while mental health can have a bearing on whether or not someone goes to trial, and what kind of conviction they face, the law surrounding mental competency is very complicated. The best decision you can make, when preparing for your defense, is to hire the best possible defense attorney to represent you. That way, you can rest assured that every avenue is being pursued, and every possible course of action is being considered.


The Kronzek Firm has a reputation for creative and aggressive defenses


The tough criminal defense lawyers at The Kronzek Firm regularly work with expert mental health professionals to gather evidence of diagnoses and treatment relating to a defendant’s mental condition. We thoroughly investigate possible insanity or competency defenses, where applicable, and methodically follow through every aspect of the criminal proceeding to ensure the most positive result for our client.


Our trusted attorneys have successfully represented clients throughout the state of Michigan for decades. You can reach our team by calling 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail). We’re available 24/7 to help you and your loved ones.


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