Standard Article

Competency to Stand Trial

  1. Ronald Roesch,
  2. Kaitlyn McLachlan

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0209

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Roesch, R. and McLachlan, K. 2010. Competency to Stand Trial. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Simon Fraser University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Defendants can be found incompetent to stand trial, under provisions in criminal law, if they are unable to understand their legal circumstances and participate adequately in their defense. If they are found incompetent, further judicial proceedings are suspended until their competency has been restored. The purposes behind this procedure are to ensure that defendants receive a fair trial and to preserve the dignity of the adversarial process (Melton, Petrila, Poythress, & Slogobin, 2007). The competency standard that is currently recognized by the courts was established in Dusky v. United States (362 U.S. 402, 1960), which holds that defendants must be able to consult with an attorney and have a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings.


  • competency to stand trial;
  • forensic assessment;
  • expert testimony;
  • forensic psychology;
  • psychology and the courts