Mental Incompetence in New Jersey Criminal Cases
Passaic County NJ Criminal Defense Attorney
Experienced criminal defense lawyer Alissa D. Hascup represents clients throughout New Jersey, including Wayne, Paterson, West Orange, Clifton, and Passaic, that have been charged with criminal offenses such as kidnapping, unlawful possession of a weapon, and sexual assault.
She has successfully handled thousands of cases in New Jersey, in Superior Court (indictable/felony level offenses) and Municipal Court (disorderly persons/misdemeanor level offenses). Ms. Hascup is a former Assistant Morris County Prosecutor and Special Deputy Attorney General who handled a host of domestic violence cases during the course of her career, ranging from aggravated assault to burglary. She also handled cases were a number of various defenses were raised, including the defense of mental incompetence.
Being charged with a criminal offense means exposure, in the extreme, to a lengthy period of incarceration, loss of driving privileges, and hefty fines. Conviction means exposure, in addition, to a multitude of collateral consequences. If there is a potential defense of mental incompetence, it must be raised immediately.
If competency is an issue, contact Alissa D. Hascup, an experienced NJ criminal defense lawyer, to discuss your options. She is available anytime for an initial consultation, which is always provided free of charge.
Defense of Mental Incompetence in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:4-4
Defenses – Mental Incompetence Excluding Fitness to Proceed. N.J.S.A. 2C:4-4 provides:
a. No person who lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense shall be tried, convicted or sentenced for the commission of an offense so as such incapacity endures.
b. A person shall be considered mentally competent to stand trial on criminal charges if the proofs shall establish:
1. That the defendant has the mental capacity to appreciate his presence in relation to time, place and things; and
2. That his elementary mental processes are such that he comprehends:
a. That he is in a court of justice charged with a criminal offense;
b. That there is a judge on the bench;
c. That there is a prosecutor present who will try to convict him or a criminal charge;
d. That he has a lawyer who will undertake to defend him against that charge;
e. That he will be expected to tell the best of his ability the facts surrounding him at the time and place where the alleged violation was committed if he chooses to testify and understands the right not to testify;
f. That there is or may be a jury present to pass upon evidence adduced as to guilt or innocence of such charge or; that if he should choose to enter into plea negotiations or to plead guilty, that he comprehend the consequences of a guilty plea and that he be able to knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive those rights which are waived upon such entry of a guilty plea; and
g. That he has the ability to participate in an adequate presentation of his defense.
If the defendant raises a valid doubt about his competence to stand trial, a hearing needs to be held as soon as possible. Additionally, once the issue of competency is raised, the burden is on the State to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is competent to stand trial.
Contact an Totowa NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Alissa D. Hascup is a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the nuances of the law and the defenses that can be raised to fight certain charges or avoid prosecution altogether. She will use her knowledge to your advantage. If you find yourself in a situation where you or a loved one have been charged with a criminal offense as a result of a domestic violence or other related incident in which the actor may not be mentally competent to proceed, the issue must be raised. Call us today or fill out our convenient contact form to request your free, initial consultation with Ms. Hascup.