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Adjudicative Competence in Juveniles: Legal and Clinical Issues

NCJ Number
Richard E. Redding J.D.
Date Published
8 pages
This article briefly reviewes both the legal and clinical issues surrounding adjudicative competence as applied to juvenile proceedings.
This article discusses the adjudicative competence doctrine as it relates specifically to juveniles. The adjudicative competence doctrine is seen as serving three important interests: (1) ensures that defendants are able to assist in their own defense; (2) ensures that a defendant's decisions are autonomous decisions; and (3) ensures that defendants have a moral understanding of the proceedings. Today, juvenile adjudications resemble criminal convictions with more serious ramifications. Only recently, have state courts and legislatures recognized that the adjudicative competence requirement needed to be applied to delinquency proceedings in the juvenile court. The article presents specific information on the Virginia juvenile competency statute, enacted in 1999. The statute requires that juveniles be competent for trial in delinquency proceedings. The statute was summarized with information on: (1) competency standards and bases for a finding of incompetency; (2) raising the competency issue; (3) qualifications of competency evaluators; (4) location of evaluations; (5) the evaluation report and competency hearing; (6) restoration services; and (7) dispositions for unrestorably incompetent juveniles. The article concludes with a review on empirical research on the adjudicative competence of juveniles and competency restoration in juveniles. References