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Contact Us Today! Learn More about Chance-M Diversion program!

Contact us today to learn more about our Forensic Evaluation Services! Our dedicated team of experienced professionals is eager to assist you in understanding the benefits and tailored support these services offer. At Psychwest, we pride ourselves on delivering personalized, effective solutions through our comprehensive forensic assessments. Let us help you explore the Forensic Evaluation Services and how they can provide crucial insights for individuals involved in the justice system. Reach out to us now, and together we'll explore the possibilities for informed decision-making, fair outcomes, and lasting success.
Comprehensive Forensic Evaluation Services

Empowering Justice, Rehabilitation, and Success for Juveniles and Adults.
Providing Insightful Assessments and Customized Support Across the Legal Spectrum

Forensic Evaluation Services: Comprehensive, Insightful, and Fair Evaluations

We specialize in providing comprehensive Competency to Stand Trial evaluations in accordance with PC 1368/69 in the State of California and can provide assessments in other states as well. Our dedicated forensic team utilizes the Mental Competency Evaluation Scale (MCES) and the Juvenile – Mental Competency Evaluation Scale (J-MCES), industry-standard tools, to accurately assess an individual’s mental competency and ability to participate in their own defense.

Our comprehensive assessments cover a wide array of areas pertinent to trial competency. This includes, but is not limited to, an understanding of legal concepts and court proceedings, effective communication skills with an attorney, and the capacity to maintain appropriate courtroom behavior. Central to our evaluation process is the application of the Dusky standard, established in the landmark case, Dusky v. United States. This standard mandates that an individual must have both “sufficient present ability to consult with their lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding” and a “rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against them.”

Moreover, our team also takes into account other relevant legal and case law standards, such as the criteria set out in the case of Indiana v. Edwards. This case further nuanced the Dusky standard, recognizing that some defendants, despite being competent to stand trial, may not be competent to self-represent due to more complex mental health issues.

We adhere strictly to the standardized administrative and scoring best practices based on the MCES/J-MCES competency instruments. This ensures that we uphold consistency and accuracy in our evaluations while maintaining full compliance with all pertinent legal standards. Our goal is to provide comprehensive and legally sound evaluations to support the justice system in making fair and informed decisions about an individual’s trial competency.

Our goal is to provide an unparalleled level of service in competency to stand trial evaluations. We’re committed to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and expertise in our field.

In addition to our core competency to stand trial assessment services, we also offer the MCAT Program for adults and juveniles, an advanced solution that further enhances the depth and breadth of our competency evaluations. This program incorporates innovative strategies and methodologies to provide a thorough, nuanced understanding of an individual’s competency status. By offering personalized support and training, we are able to further assist individuals in understanding the legal process and effectively participate in their defense. The program utilizes a structured, four-phase approach to ensure the comprehensive development of mental competency abilities is fully realized.

To learn more about our mental competency restoration services under the MCAT program, feel free to explore these services in more depth! Further, 

Comprehensive Diversion Assessments are performed, which works closely with the courts to identify suitable candidates for community-based diversion programming. The assessments evaluates whether a community-based educational, diversion, habilitation, and reintegration program designed to decrease recidivism for adults and juveniles with cognitive developmental disabilities and mental health needs is appropriate for their specific needs. The assessment focuses on addressing the unique challenges faced by these individuals when they are involved in the criminal justice system, providing tailored support recommendations to facilitate their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. 

This includes the following diversion plans:

    • •Chapter 2.5 Special Proceedings in Narcotics and Drug Abuse Cases – Penal Code § 1000 – 1000.65 
    • Chapter 2.7 Misdemeanor Diversion Penal Code § 1001 – 1001.9 and Chapter 2.9 Diversion of Misdemeanor Offenders Penal Code § 1001.50 – 1001.55
    • •Chapter 2.6 Deferred Entry of Judgment Reentry Program 100.8 – 1000.10
    • Chapter 2.8 Individuals with Cognitive Developmental Disabilities – Penal Code § 1001.20 – 1001.34
    • Chapter 2.8A Individuals with Mental Disorders – Penal Code § 1001.35 – 1001.36
    • Chapter 2.9C Military Diversion Program – Penal Code § 1001.80
    • Chapter 2.9D Theft and Repeat Theft Crimes Diversion or Deferred Entry of Judgment Program Penal Code § 1001.81 – 1001.82 

Our diversion assessments aim to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health needs who have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies. By providing tailored support service recommendations, such as diversion programming, program assessment, educational programming, mentoring care programming, mental health therapeutic services, and specialized services for unique populations, we help participants lead positive, productive lives within their communities. We remain committed to providing comprehensive support to individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health needs who are involved in the criminal and juvenile justice system. By addressing their unique challenges and offering tailored recommendations, our assessment team aims to reduce recidivism and promote positive reintegration into the community. Through our ongoing commitment and standard evaluation procedures, we strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these individuals, fostering safer and more inclusive communities for all.

Risk & Threat Assessments

Our forensic team offers various risk and threat assessments, including Arson, Sex Offender Evaluations (PC §288.1), and Sexually Violent Predator Civil Commitment Evaluations (WIC §6600). These assessments provide valuable insights into an individual’s potential risk to themselves and others, informing appropriate legal action and ensuring community safety.

We specialize in risk assessment and threat assessment to evaluate the potential for violence in various situations. Risk assessment aims to determine the probability of an individual engaging in violent behavior based on past behavior, known risk factors, and statistical data. In contrast, threat assessment focuses on the potential for targeted violence against a specific person, group, or location, often considering the subject of concern’s motivations, intentions, and capabilities. While risk assessment takes a quantitative approach and compares an individual to known groups, threat assessment takes a more qualitative approach and considers behavior patterns and context. Based on the assessment findings, our team offers recommendations for intervention and management strategies to prevent or mitigate the risk of violence to protect public safety.

Insanity (California Penal Code 1026/1027) and Sanity Restoration Assessments (1026.2/1026.5)

Sanity and Sanity Restoration Assessments are essential components of our forensic services, helping to determine an individual’s mental state at the time of an offense and their current dangerousness if released into the community under our Sanity Restoration Assessments. Our experienced professionals conduct thorough evaluations to assist the court in informing legal decisions to ensure that the individual requesting release will be provided the necessary support.

    • •1026/1027 Cases – California Penal Code 1027 pertains to individuals who are pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. When an individual enters a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, the test is whether at the time of the offense, the individual was incapable or knowing or understanding the nature and quality of his or her act and of distinguishing right from wrong (California Penal Code 25).

      This assessment is established on the M’Naghten rule. The
      M’Naghten rule, as defined, states that an accused was laboring under such a mental defect, disease, or disorder, that the person was unable to know or understand the nature and quality of the act they were doing, or if they did know it, they did not know what they were doing was wrong (People v. Horn, (1984) 158 Cal.App.3d 1014: Proposition 8, the Victim’s Bill of Rights, at the June 1982 Primary Election. Under this statute, a defendant is insane only when “he was incapable of knowing or understanding the nature and quality of his or her act or, if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing of distinguishing right from wrong at the time of the commission of the offense.”
    • •1026.2/1026.5 Cases –

      California Penal Code 1026.1 (Grounds for post-commitment release) pertains to individuals who are applying for restoration of sanity. Individuals who are committed to a state hospital or other treatment facility under the provisions of Section 1026 shall be released from the state hospital or other treatment facility only under one or more of the following circumstances:

(a) Pursuant to the provisions of Section 1026.2, it is a two-step process where an individual attempts to demonstrate that they are no longer a danger to the health and safety of others due to a mental defect, disease, or disorder while under supervision and treatment in the community. In this first step, an individual is attempting to demonstrate that they will no longer be a danger to others while under the supervision and treatment in the community. If the court finds this to be true, the person is then placed in an appropriate forensic conditional release program for one year. After a year, the court will hold a trial to determine whether the defendant’s sanity is restored.

(b) California Penal Code Section 1026.3 permits a person who was committed to a state hospital or other treatment facility to be placed on outpatient status from the commitment only if the medical experts who plan and provide treatment conclude that such treatment would benefit the offender and cause no undue hazard to the community. (Pen. Code, § 1600 et seq.). (Pen. Code, § 1026.1; see People v. Dobson (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 1422, 1432.)

(c) Upon expiration of the maximum term of commitment as provided in subdivision (a) of Section 1026.5, except as such term may be extended under the provisions of subdivision (b) (1) of Section 1026.5.

Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorship California Welfare & Institutions Code §5350 - 5352 and Murphy Conservatorship (California Welfare & Institutions Code § 5008 (h) (1) (B))

Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorship and Murphy Conservatorship are two distinct types of mental health conservatorships in California, each with its own purpose and target population.

LPS Conservatorship is designed for individuals suffering from a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism, who may be a danger to themselves or others. This type of conservatorship aims to provide help for persons who need mental health treatment but cannot or will not accept it voluntarily. The conservator is responsible for finding a suitable placement and mental health treatment for the conservatee. LPS conservatorships have a one-year duration and must be renewed annually if necessary. These cases are confidential, and the conservatee’s civil rights are protected with special measures, given that they may be placed in a locked facility.

Murphy Conservatorship is specifically for adults with severe mental disorders who have pending criminal charges for violent felonies and have been found incompetent to stand trial under the California Penal Code section 1370. These individuals may be dangerous and are unable to understand the nature and purpose of the criminal proceedings against them or assist their counsel in a rational manner due to a mental illness or developmental disorder. A Murphy Conservatorship can become a long-term commitment, reestablished annually until the conservatee’s competency is restored.

Parental Fitness, Dependency, & Bonding Evaluations

Our forensic team conducts Parental Fitness, Dependency, and Bonding Evaluations to assess the capacity of parents to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children. These evaluations inform decisions related to child custody, visitation rights, and adoption proceedings.

Neuropsychological Evaluations

Neuropsychological Evaluations are essential in assessing an individual’s cognitive, memory, and executive functioning abilities. Our team conducts comprehensive evaluations to inform treatment planning and support individuals facing neurological challenges or recovering from brain injuries.

Forensic Consultation

Our forensic consultation services provide expert guidance to legal professionals and organizations seeking insight into psychological and neuropsychological aspects of their cases. With a team of experienced psychologists, neuropsychologists, and mental health professionals, we offer a comprehensive range of services tailored to the unique needs of each client. Our forensic consultation services include:

    1. Case Review and Analysis: Our team reviews and analyzes case materials, medical records, psychological evaluations, and other relevant information to provide an informed, unbiased perspective on the psychological and neuropsychological aspects of the case. This process helps identify potential strengths, weaknesses, and areas requiring further investigation.

    2. Expert Witness Testimony: Our professionals are available to testify in court as expert witnesses, offering their expertise on psychological and neuropsychological issues related to the case. They provide clear, objective explanations of complex concepts, ensuring that judges, juries, and other legal professionals understand the psychological aspects of the case.

    3. Psychological and Neuropsychological Assessments: We conduct comprehensive assessments of individuals involved in legal cases to evaluate their cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning. These evaluations can assist in determining an individual’s competency to stand trial, mental state at the time of the offense, or the presence of psychological disorders that may impact their legal situation.

    4. Risk Assessment and Management: Our team is experienced in conducting risk assessments for various purposes, such as assessing the risk of future violent behavior, sexual recidivism, or self-harm. We provide recommendations for risk management and treatment strategies to minimize potential harm to the individual and the community.

    5. Consultation on Trial Strategy: We work closely with legal professionals to develop strategies for effectively presenting psychological and neuropsychological evidence in court. This includes advising on the selection and preparation of expert witnesses, cross-examination techniques, and the presentation of complex information to judges and juries.

    6. Training and Education: We offer training and educational programs for legal professionals, law enforcement, and other organizations on various psychological and neuropsychological topics relevant to the legal system. These programs can be customized to meet the specific needs of the audience and cover topics such as forensic assessment, mental health law, and the role of mental health professionals in the legal system.

By leveraging our expertise in forensic psychology and neuropsychology, we provide valuable insights and support to legal professionals and organizations, helping them navigate the complexities of cases involving mental health and cognitive issues. Our forensic consultation services are designed to ensure that psychological and neuropsychological factors are accurately and effectively represented in legal proceedings, contributing to fair and just outcomes.

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