Juveniles Evaluated Incompetence to Proceed: Characteristics and Quality of Mental Health Professionals’ Evaluations

Document Type


Publication Date



mental health professionals; juvenile legal evaluation; legal competency; juvenile competency evaluation; evaluation techniques; commitment criteria; youth client descriptions; legal issues

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The authors studied quality of evaluations of juveniles whose competence to proceed was at issue before the court and characteristics of mental health professionals completing these reports. Many evaluators failed to address important legal issues and offered incomplete descriptions of the youths, their capacities, and the evaluation techniques used. Evaluators commented on legal competency factors in most reports, as required by law, but often failed to identify the cause of the noted incapacity or whether children met commitment criteria (also required by law). Although core competence-related abilities identified in Florida law were addressed in the majority of evaluations, assessments were less than optimal in other psycholegal and clinical domains. Seven recommendations are offered for conducting juvenile competency evaluations that are professionally sound and meet legal requirements.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, v. 35, issue 4, p. 380-388