Involuntary Competence

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Publication Date



This article addresses whether the state has the right to medicate involuntarily a defendant who is incompetent either to plead guilty or to stand trial for the purpose of restoring legal competence. It first presents the constitutional background concerning incompetence and the right of prisoners generally to refuse psychotropic medication. Then the article examines the individual and state interests that must be considered to decide specifically whether the state may involuntarily medicate a criminal defendant solely for the purpose of restoring competence. Although the individual interests are strong, the article contends that the state does have a right to medicate involuntarily defendants charged with most crimes to restore trial competence, and that adequate remedies are available to ensure that medicated defendants receive a fair trial.

Publication Title

Behavioral Science & Law

Publication Citation

21 Behav. Sci. & L. 311 (2003)

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