June 30, 2011 By Wallin & Klarich

When doubt is declared concerning a defendant’s competence, all criminal proceedings are suspended until there has been a determination on the defendant’s competence. The court is bound under Penal Code §1368(c) to suspend criminal proceedings until the defendant is determined to be competent. When the criminal proceedings are stopped, all time limitations are suspended as well.

In the case where doubt was declared in the middle of a jury trial, Penal Code §1368(c) instructs the judge to discharge the jury only if it appears to that undue hardship would result if the jury is retained on call.

Though the criminal proceedings have halted, there exist exceptions. In the pending determination of the defendant’s competence, the court is still able to rule on motions to dismiss (including motions made under Penal Code §1385), motions to suppress evidence and demurrers. Additionally, preliminary hearing can be conducted as allowed by Penal Code §1368.1.

Furthermore, under Penal Code 1368(a), the judge must offer the defense counsel an opportunity to state whether counsel believes the defendant to be competent. It is important to note that Evidence Code §954 and current case law makes any opinion rendered on the defendant’s competency not in violation of attorney-client privilege. Though the judge is obligated to extend this opportunity to comment on the defendant’s competency, the counsel need not respond.

And if the defendant was representing himself prior to the declaration of doubt concerning his competence, then he will have to either retain an attorney or the court must appoint him one. The ability to represent yourself is lost when there has been a declaration of doubt.

We hope this gives you some insight on what happens after the court declares a doubt concerning a defendant’s competence. If you or a loved one needs help with a criminal case that may have an issue of competence to stand trial or any other type of criminal defense matter, you need an attorney immediately. Wallin & Klarich has a team of highly skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorneys ready to take your call. Wallin & Klarich has over 30 years of experience defending against criminal prosecution and achieving the best possible results. Call us today at 888-749-0034 or visit us online at www.wklaw.com. We will be there for you when you call.

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