The Court Support Services Department manages all the forensic psychological evaluation referrals for the Franklin County Municipal Court. Forensic services staff liaise between the Court, the jail’s mental health staff, community providers, OhioMHAS facilities, the contracted evaluator, and the legal parties assigned to the case.
The duties include administrative management of competency to stand trial evaluations, Probate Court commitment referrals, Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) proceedings, and oversight of competency restoration proceedings.
TYPES OF FORENSIC EVALUATIONS COMMONLY USED IN COURT CASES
Forensic evaluations are requested for several reasons, primarily to obtain expert opinions and objective assessments on matters relevant to a legal case. These evaluations are conducted by forensic experts with expertise in specific fields relevant to the case.
Competency to Stand Trial Evaluations: Courts may request forensic evaluations to determine a person's competency to stand trial per ORC 2945.371(H)(3). These evaluations assess a defendant's mental state and ability to understand and participate in the legal proceedings against them. The evaluation helps the Court determine if the individual is mentally fit to face trial and assist in their defense. If a defendant is deemed Incompetent to Stand Trial, these evaluations will guide the Court as to the defendant’s ability to be restored to competency in the time allotted by law.
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) Evaluations: In cases where the defendant's mental state at the time of the offense is in question, forensic evaluations can be requested to determine their criminal responsibility per ORC 2945.371 (H)(4). These evaluations assess factors such as sanity, intoxication, or mental disorders that might have affected the defendant's capacity to understand the nature of their actions or ability to understand the wrongfulness of their alleged actions.
Psychological Diagnostic Assessments: Psychological evaluations aim to assess an individual's mental health, cognitive abilities, personality traits, and behavioral patterns. These evaluations can help determine a defendant’s diagnosis, the impact of mental health on the individual's behavior or decision-making and can suggest appropriate treatment recommendations to the Court.
Risk Assessments: Forensic evaluations are often utilized to assess the risk posed by individuals involved in criminal cases. These evaluations aim to determine the likelihood of future dangerous behavior, the potential for recidivism, or the need for specific treatment or interventions.
- Treatment in Lieu of Conviction: The Court’s forensic evaluator provides the necessary evaluation to determine the defendant’s eligibility for intervention in lieu of conviction in accordance with ORC 2951.041 and recommending an appropriate intervention plan.
The specific type of forensic evaluation required in a court case depends on the nature of the case, the legal questions at hand, and the evidence or individuals involved. The purpose is to provide the Court with expert opinions, objective assessments, and scientific evidence that can assist in making informed decisions and judgments. The Judge, Defense Attorney, or Prosecutor can request an evaluation for good cause shown. The evaluator has 30 days to conduct the evaluation and provide a written report to the Court which are filed under seal with the Clerk of Court’s Office pursuant to R.C. 2945.371(H).