Everything You Need to Know about a Rule 11 Hearing in Arizona

rule 11 hearingWhenever a lawyer suspects that their client may be mentally incompetent, they may request a Rule 11 hearing. This hearing is an important part of the criminal process and it could affect the manner in which a defendant is being prosecuted.

Rule 11 Hearings in Arizona: An Overview

For a Rule 11 hearing to be granted, a criminal attorney will have to provide substantial evidence of mental incompetence. During the hearing, medical professionals will have to determine whether the defendant can understand the nature of the criminal proceedings and if they’re capable of assisting the attorney representing them.

After the medical evaluation takes place, a restoration program could be commenced to explain the legal process and give the defendant at least some idea of the eventual consequences they will face if found guilty.

Even when the program is completed, some defendants will still be labeled “not competent, not restorable.” In such instances, an Arizona court can approach the situation in a couple of distinctive ways.

A first option is to have the defendant remanded to the department of health services for civil proceedings. A criminal case could alternatively be referred to probate court. The outcome would be the appointment of guardianship over the defendant. A third and final outcome involves the dismissal of the charges altogether.

What Happens During a Rule 11 Hearing?

The court will send the defendant to at least two medical professionals for an evaluation. After a thorough interaction, the medical professionals will conclude about the mental competence of the defendant and send their report to the court.

A Rule 11 hearing can be seen as an interview. Some of the common questions that doctors will ask to assess competence include the following:

  • Do you have an idea about what’s happening and what’s going to happen during future court proceedings?
  • Do you know what a plea bargain is?
  • Do you know the roles that the judge and the jury play in the criminal process?
  • Do you know what charges have been brought against you and how these could impact your life?
  • Do you know what the role of the prosecutor is?

Based on the information you provide, the doctor could decide that you are competent, incompetent or incompetent but restorable.

People who are considered incompetent but restorable will go through a program aimed at giving them better idea about the functioning of the legal system. Doctors could also prescribe certain medications aimed at restoring mental competence.

The completion of such a program in Arizona will take anywhere between two and six months. In the end of the process, doctors will examine the defendant again to conclude whether restoration has been achieved.

There are some instances, however, in which things aren’t as clear cut.

Evaluation is needed from two medical professionals. These doctors could disagree about the mental competence of the defendant.

If this is the case, the defendant will have to go and see another mental health professional. This third evaluation will confirm one decision or the other and contribute to either court proceedings beginning or the court looking for an alternative solution.

Individuals who are deemed incompetent and dangerous will be held in a medical facility. A treatment will occur and the condition of the defendant will be monitored closely. Once they’re no longer perceived a threat to themselves and to society, they will be released.

Are Rule 11 Hearings Beneficial?

A Rule 11 hearing can be beneficial in criminal proceedings.

Even if a defendant is considered to be mentally competent, some of their limitations determined by the doctor could be utilized as mitigating circumstances in the court proceedings.

If your attorney recommends a Rule 11 hearing, you should try to understand a bit more about the process and go through with the recommendation. A Rule 11 hearing could provide you with the assistance that you need or it could lead to the dismissal of the criminal charges.

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