Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 16.1. Courts Not of Record
Chapter 11. Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts

§ 16.1-356. Raising question of competency to stand trial; evaluation and determination of competency.

A. If, at any time after the attorney for the juvenile has been retained or appointed pursuant to a delinquency proceeding and before the end of trial, the court finds, sua sponte or upon hearing evidence or representations of counsel for the juvenile or the attorney for the Commonwealth, that there is probable cause to believe that the juvenile lacks substantial capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist his attorney in his own defense, the court shall order that a competency evaluation be performed by at least one psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, licensed professional counselor, licensed clinical social worker, or licensed marriage and family therapist, who is qualified by training and experience in the forensic evaluation of juveniles.

The Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services shall approve the training and qualifications for individuals authorized to conduct juvenile competency evaluations and provide restoration services to juveniles pursuant to this article. The Commissioner shall also provide all juvenile courts with a list of guidelines for the court to use in the determination of qualifying individuals as experts in matters relating to juvenile competency and restoration.

B. The evaluation shall be performed on an outpatient basis at a community services board or behavioral health authority, juvenile detention home, or juvenile justice facility unless the court specifically finds that (i) the results of the outpatient competency evaluation indicate that hospitalization of the juvenile for evaluation of competency is necessary or (ii) the juvenile is currently hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital. If one of these findings is made, the court, under authority of this subsection, may order the juvenile sent to a hospital designated by the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services as appropriate for the evaluation of juveniles against whom a delinquency petition has been filed.

C. The court shall require the attorney for the Commonwealth to provide to the evaluators appointed under subsection A any information relevant to the evaluation, including, but not limited to (i) a copy of the warrant or petition; (ii) the names and addresses of the attorney for the Commonwealth, the attorney for the juvenile, and the judge ordering the evaluation; and (iii) information about the alleged offense. The court shall require the attorney for the juvenile to provide to the evaluator only the psychiatric records and other information that is deemed relevant to the evaluation of competency. The moving party shall provide the evaluator a summary of the reasons for the evaluation request. All information required by this subsection shall be provided to the evaluator within 96 hours of the issuance of the court order requiring the evaluation and when applicable, shall be submitted prior to admission to the facility providing the inpatient evaluation. If the 96-hour period expires on a Saturday, Sunday, or other legal holiday, the 96 hours shall be extended to the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. The appointed evaluator or the director of the community services board, behavioral health authority, or hospital shall acknowledge receipt of the court order to the clerk of the court on a form developed by the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia as soon as practicable but no later than the close of business on the next business day following receipt of the court order. If the appointed evaluator or the director of the community services board, behavioral health authority, hospital, or private evaluator is unable to conduct the evaluation, he shall inform the court on the acknowledgement form.

D. If the juvenile is hospitalized under the provisions of subsection B, the juvenile shall be hospitalized for such time as the director of the hospital deems necessary to perform an adequate evaluation of the juvenile's competency, but not to exceed 10 days from the date of admission to the hospital. All evaluations shall be completed and the report filed with the court within 14 days of receipt by the evaluator of all information required under subsection C.

E. Upon completion of the evaluation, the evaluator shall promptly and in no event exceeding 14 days after receipt of all required information submit the report in writing to the court and the attorneys of record concerning (i) the juvenile's capacity to understand the proceedings against him; (ii) his ability to assist his attorney; and (iii) his need for services in the event he is found incompetent, including a description of the suggested necessary services and least restrictive setting to assist the juvenile in restoration to competency. No statements of the juvenile relating to the alleged offense shall be included in the report.

F. After receiving the report described in subsection E, the court shall promptly determine whether the juvenile is competent to stand trial for adjudication or disposition. A hearing on the juvenile's competency is not required unless one is requested by the attorney for the Commonwealth or the attorney for the juvenile or when required under § 16.1-357 B. If a hearing is held, the party alleging that the juvenile is incompetent shall bear the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence the juvenile's incompetency. The juvenile shall have the right to notice of the hearing and the right to personally participate in and introduce evidence at the hearing.

If the juvenile is otherwise able to understand the charges against him and assist in his defense, a finding of incompetency shall not be made based solely on any or all of the following: (i) the juvenile's age or developmental factors, (ii) the juvenile's claim to be unable to remember the time period surrounding the alleged offense, or (iii) the fact that the juvenile is under the influence of medication.

1999, cc. 958, 997; 2000, c. 337; 2005, c. 110; 2009, cc. 813, 840; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 311.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.