Ga. Code § 17-7-130

Current through 2021-2022 Regular Session Chapter 884
Section 17-7-130 - Proceedings upon plea of mental incompetency to stand trial
(a) As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) "Child" means an accused person under the jurisdiction of the superior court pursuant to Code Section 15-11-560.
(2) "Civil commitment" means the accused's involuntary inpatient or outpatient commitment pursuant to Chapter 3 or 4 of Title 37, as appropriate.
(3) "Court" means the court which has jurisdiction over the criminal charges against the accused.
(4) "Department" means the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
(5) "Developmental disability" shall have the same meaning as set forth in paragraph (8) of Code Section 37-1-1.
(6) "Inpatient" shall have the same meaning as in paragraph (9.1) of Code Section 37-3-1; provided, however, that as applied to a child for purposes of this Code section, the term shall mean a child who is mentally ill or has a developmental disability and is in need of involuntary placement.
(7) "Nonviolent offense" means any offense other than a violent offense.
(8) "Outpatient" shall have the same meaning as in paragraph (12.1) of Code Section 37-3-1, provided that:
(A) As applied to a child for purposes of this Code section, the term shall mean a child who is mentally ill or has a developmental disability and is in need of involuntary placement; and
(B) The court determines that the accused meets the criteria for release on bail or other pre-trial release pursuant to Code Section 17-6-1.
(9) "Serious violent felony" shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 17-10-6.1.
(10) "Sexual offense" shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 17-10-6.2.
(11) "Violent offense" means:
(A)
(i) A serious violent felony;
(ii) A sexual offense;
(iii) Criminal attempt to commit a serious violent felony;
(iv) Criminal attempt to commit a sexual offense;
(v) Aggravated assault;
(vi) Hijacking a motor vehicle in the first degree or hijacking an aircraft;
(vii) Aggravated battery;
(viii) Aggravated stalking;
(ix) Arson in the first degree or in the second degree;
(x) Stalking;
(xi) Fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer;
(xii) Any offense which involves the use of a deadly weapon or destructive device; and
(B) Those felony offenses deemed by the court to involve an allegation of actual or potential physical harm to another person.
(b)
(1) If an accused files a motion requesting a competency evaluation, the court may order the department to conduct an evaluation by a physician or licensed psychologist to determine the accused's mental competency to stand trial and, if such physician or licensed psychologist determines the accused to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, to make recommendations as to restoring the accused to competency. If the accused is a child, the department shall be authorized to place such child in a secure facility designated by the department. The department's evaluation shall be submitted to the court, and the court shall submit such evaluation to the attorney for the accused or if pro se, to the accused, but otherwise, the evaluation shall be under seal and shall not be released to any other person absent a court order.
(2) If the accused files a special plea alleging that the accused is mentally incompetent to stand trial, it shall be the duty of the court to have a bench trial, unless the state or the accused demands a special jury trial, to determine the accused's competency to stand trial. Once a special plea has been filed, the court shall submit the department's evaluation to the prosecuting attorney.
(c) If the court finds the accused is mentally incompetent to stand trial, the court may order a department physician or licensed psychologist to evaluate and diagnose the accused as to whether there is a substantial probability that the accused will attain mental competency to stand trial in the foreseeable future. The court shall retain jurisdiction over the accused and shall transfer the accused to the physical custody of the department. At its discretion, the court may allow the evaluation to be performed on the accused as an outpatient if the accused is charged with a nonviolent offense. Such evaluation shall be performed within 90 days after the department has received actual custody of an accused or, in the case of an outpatient, a court order requiring evaluation of an accused. If the accused is a child, the department shall be authorized to place such child in a secure facility designated by the department. If the evaluation shows:
(1) That the accused is mentally competent to stand trial, the department shall immediately report that determination and the reasons therefor to the court, and the court shall submit such determination to the attorney for the accused or, if pro se, to the accused and to the prosecuting attorney. The accused shall be returned to the court as provided for in subsection (d) of this Code section;
(2) That the accused is mentally incompetent to stand trial and that there is not a substantial probability that the accused will attain competency in the foreseeable future, the court shall follow the procedures set forth in subsection (e) of this Code section for civil commitment or release; or
(3) That the accused is mentally incompetent to stand trial but there is a substantial probability that the accused will attain competency in the foreseeable future, by the end of the 90 day period, or at any prior time, the department shall report that finding and the reasons therefor to the court and shall retain custody over the accused for the purpose of continued treatment for an additional period not to exceed nine months; provided, however, that if the accused is charged with a misdemeanor offense or a nonviolent offense, the court shall retain jurisdiction over the accused but may, in its discretion, allow continued treatment to be done on an outpatient basis by the department. The department shall monitor the accused's outpatient treatment for the additional period not to exceed nine months. If, by the end of the nine-month period or at any prior time the accused's condition warrants, the accused is still determined by the department physician or licensed psychologist to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, irrespective of the probability of recovery in the foreseeable future, the department shall report that finding and the reasons therefor to the court. The court shall then follow the procedures in subsection (e) of this Code section for civil commitment or release.
(d)
(1) If the department's physician or licensed psychologist determines at any time that the accused is mentally competent to stand trial, the department shall notify the court, and the accused shall be discharged into the custody of a sheriff of the jurisdiction of the court unless the charges which led to the evaluation or civil commitment have been dismissed, in which case, the accused shall be discharged from the department. In the event a sheriff does not appear and take custody of the accused within 20 days after notice to the appropriate sheriff of the jurisdiction of the court, the presiding judge of the court, and the prosecuting attorney for the court, the department shall itself return the accused to one of the court's detention facilities, and the cost of returning the accused shall be paid by the county in which the court is located. All notifications under this paragraph shall be sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested. As an alternative to returning the accused to the sheriff of the jurisdiction of the court, the department may hold the accused at the department's secure facility instead of at the court's detention facilities whenever a department physician or licensed psychologist provides written notice to the court that such detention in the court's facilities would be detrimental to the well-being of the accused. Such alternative detention shall continue only until the date of the accused's trial. Regardless of where the accused is held, the court shall hold a bench trial to determine the accused's mental competency to stand trial within 45 days of receiving the department's evaluation or, if demanded, shall conduct a special jury trial within six months of receiving the department's evaluation.
(2) If the accused is an outpatient and the department's physician or licensed psychologist determines at any time that the accused is mentally competent to stand trial, the accused may remain in the community under conditions of bond or other conditions ordered by the court, if any, until the date of the accused's trial, which shall be within 45 days of the court receiving the department's evaluation if tried by the court or within six months of receiving the department's evaluation if a special jury trial is demanded.
(e) If the evaluation performed pursuant to subsection (c) of this Code section shows that the accused is mentally incompetent to stand trial and that there is not a substantial probability that the accused will attain competency in the foreseeable future:
(1) If the accused is charged with a misdemeanor, the department shall return the physical custody of the accused to a sheriff of the jurisdiction of the court; provided, however, that as an alternative to returning the accused to the sheriff of the jurisdiction of the court, the department may hold the accused at the department's secure facility instead of at the court's detention facilities whenever a department physician or licensed psychologist provides written notice to the court that such detention in the court's facilities would be detrimental to the well-being of the accused. Such alternative detention shall continue only until the date of the accused's trial. Regardless of where the accused is held, the court shall, within 45 days of receiving the department's evaluation:
(A) Consider entry of a nolle prosequi of the charges pursuant to Code Section 17-8-3 and, if the accused is not a child, request that the department petition the probate court of the jurisdiction of the accused's residence for civil commitment of the accused; or
(B) If the court finds that the accused does not meet the criteria for civil commitment, the accused shall be released in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title; or
(2) If the accused is charged with a felony, the department shall return the physical custody of the accused to a sheriff of the jurisdiction of the court; provided, however, that as an alternative to returning the accused to the sheriff of the jurisdiction of the court, the department may hold the accused at the department's secure facility instead of at the court's detention facilities whenever a department physician or licensed psychologist provides written notice to the court that such detention in the court's facilities would be detrimental to the well-being of the accused. Such alternative detention shall continue only until the date of the accused's trial. The department shall report to the court its finding regarding the accused's mental competency to stand trial, the reasons therefor, and its opinion as to whether the accused currently meets the criteria for civil commitment. The court may order an independent evaluation of the accused by a court appointed licensed clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, who shall report to the court in writing as to the current mental and emotional condition of the accused. Regardless of where the accused is held, the court shall, within 45 days of receiving the department's evaluation:
(A) Consider entry of a nolle prosequi of the charges pursuant to Code Section 17-8-3 and, if the accused is not a child, request that the department petition the probate court of the jurisdiction of the accused's residence for civil commitment of the accused; or
(B) Retain jurisdiction of the accused and conduct a trial at which the court shall hear evidence and consider all psychiatric and psychological evaluations submitted to the court and determine whether the state has proved by clear and convincing evidence that the accused meets the criteria for civil commitment. The burden of proof in such trials shall be upon the state. Following the trial:
(i) If the court finds that the accused does not meet the criteria for civil commitment, the accused shall be released in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title;
(ii) If the court finds that the accused meets the criteria for civil commitment, the judge may issue an order civilly committing the accused, and the court shall order the civil commitment to be on an inpatient or outpatient placement; provided, however, that if the accused is a child, the department shall be authorized to place such child in a secure facility designated by the department;
(iii) If the accused is civilly committed pursuant to division (ii) of this subparagraph and was charged with a nonviolent offense, the court may order civil commitment on an annual basis, but in no case for a period to exceed the maximum period for which the accused could have been sentenced on the most serious nonviolent offense charged or a period to exceed five years, whichever is less, provided that civil commitment shall be reevaluated by a department physician or licensed psychologist on an annual basis;
(iv) If the accused is civilly committed pursuant to division (ii) of this subparagraph and was charged with a violent offense, the court may order civil commitment on an annual basis, but in no case for a period to exceed the maximum period for which the accused could have been sentenced on the most serious violent offense charged, provided that civil commitment shall be reevaluated by a department physician or licensed psychologist on an annual basis;
(v) Following the civil commitment pursuant to division (ii) of this subparagraph, a department physician or licensed psychologist shall submit to the court his or her annual evaluation as to whether the civilly committed accused continues to meet the criteria for civil commitment. The court shall mail the annual evaluation to the attorney for the accused or, if pro se, to the accused and to the prosecuting attorney. The court shall review the case annually and enter the appropriate order to renew the civil commitment, to change the civil commitment status, or, in the event the charges are dismissed, to transfer the jurisdiction of the case to the probate court of the jurisdiction of the accused's residence for further civil commitment; provided, however, that after the department submits its annual evaluation, if the state or the accused requests a hearing regarding civil commitment, the court shall hold a hearing on such issue; and
(vi) An accused who is civilly committed pursuant to division (ii) of this subparagraph may make an application for release from civil commitment but shall only be released from that civil commitment by order of the court in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraphs (1) through (3) of subsection (f) of Code Section 17-7-131, except that the burden of proof in such release hearing shall be on the state, and if the civilly committed accused is indigent, the accused may petition the court to have an evaluation performed by a physician or licensed psychologist of the accused's choice, and the court may order the cost of such evaluation be paid for by the county.
(f) If, at any time, the department's physician or licensed psychologist determines that the accused is mentally incompetent to stand trial but later determines that the accused is mentally competent to stand trial, the court shall be so notified and shall order the accused detained or discharged in accordance with paragraph (1) of subsection (d) of this Code section. Any accused determined by a department physician or licensed psychologist to be mentally competent to stand trial and returned to the court as provided in subsection (d) of this Code section shall again be entitled to file a special plea as provided for in this Code section.
(g) If an accused is determined by a department physician or licensed psychologist to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, whether or not civilly committed pursuant to this Code section, the state may file at any time a motion for rehearing on the issue of the accused's mental competency to stand trial. If the state's motion is granted, the case shall proceed as provided in this Code section.
(h) Nothing in this Code section shall prevent the accused or the state from seeking a court order for a nondepartment mental competency evaluation of the accused at the cost of the movant. If a nondepartment mental competency evaluation is ordered, the court shall abide by the time frames for trial as set forth in this Code section unless the court determines, for good cause shown, that such time frames require adjustment for a nondepartment evaluation.
(i) The "Crime Victims' Bill of Rights," as set forth in Chapter 17 of this title, shall be applicable to any judicial proceeding held pursuant to this Code section, and notice shall be provided to any victim as set forth in such chapter.

OCGA § 17-7-130

Amended by 2017 Ga. Laws 182,§ 3-2, eff. 7/1/2017.
Amended by 2013 Ga. Laws 127,§ 4-16, eff. 1/1/2014.
Amended by 2011 Ga. Laws 91,§ 2, eff. 7/1/2011.
Amended by 2010 Ga. Laws 418,§ 12, eff. 7/1/2010.
Amended by 2009 Ga. Laws 102,§ 3-2, eff. 7/1/2009.
Amended by 2007 Ga. Laws 348,§ 1, eff. 7/1/2007.