One of the tenets of Florida criminal law is that a defendant must be competent to stand trial. If a defendant’s competency is in question, a hearing must be held to determine whether the defendant is fit to stand trial for criminal charges.
When a court fails to adequately assess whether a defendant is competent prior to trying the defendant, it can result in a reversal of a conviction, as shown in a recent Florida appellate court case. If you live in Sarasota and are facing criminal charges, it is prudent to consult a seasoned Sarasota criminal defense attorney to formulate a defense.
The Defendant’s Prior Charges and Competency Determinations
It is reported that the defendant was charged with aggravated battery in 1987 and aggravated assault in 1988. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in both cases, after which he was committed to the Department of Children and Families and placed in a State hospital. He was released in 1995 but violated the terms of his release and was returned to the hospital. He subsequently assaulted members of the hospital staff and was placed in a Florida commitment center. In 2015, he attacked an employee of the commitment center. He was then charged with and convicted of battery. The defendant appealed his conviction on the grounds that the court never conducted a competency hearing or advised the jury that he had previously been deemed incompetent.