This rule applies when a defendant is not competent to stand trial. A person may be incompetent for a number of reasons including mental illness, mental retardation, head injury, and substance abuse. A person is not legally competent if cannot understand the legal matters or is not able to assist in his own defense. Please note that this is very different from an insanity defense (see below). If the defendant undergoes a Rule 11 evaluation, the defendant waives all time spent on Rule 11 matters. That means the defendant cannot use the time spent during the Rule 11 process as a basis for dismissing the case under speedy trial grounds.
The process starts with a prescreen, which happens after the defense attorney files a motion for a Rule 11 evaluation. The court will then appoint a doctor to evaluate the defendant. The doctor will then prepare a report and submit it to the court and defense counsel. The report will indicate if the defendant is competent or needs further evaluation. If the defendant is competent, the case is remanded or sent back to the trial court. If the doctor recommends further evaluation, the defendant undergoes a full Rule 11 evaluation. Once this happens, the case transfers to Rule 11 court. Two doctor will evaluate the defendant, which usually means one medical doctor (MD) and one Ph.D. If the doctors both agree that the defendant is competent to stand trial, then the case goes back to the trial court.
If the doctors do not agree if the defendant is competent, the court can have a third doctor evaluate the defendant, or the court can set the matter for a hearing and the judge will decide for himself. If the doctors agree that the defendant is incompetent, the vast majority of cases are set for restoration. When this happens, the court dismisses the legal charges, and the person is further evaluated and a treated under a treatment plan. This takes place at the Arizona State Hospital (ASH). After the restoration process is done, the defendant goes through the competency determination again. If the defendant is not competent, the court could declare the defendant unrestorable, or order the defendant back for more treatment. If, however, the defendant is restored and competent, the criminal resumes at the trial court level.
The different between an insanity defense and Rule 11 is that a Rule 11 evaluation does not have anything to do with the defendant's mental state at the time of the offense. In other words, an insanity defense is a defense to the criminal charge itself, not that the defendant is not competent to stand trial. In truth, Arizona does not have a true insanity defense. Rather, it is a "guilty except insane" defense. That means if the jury or judge agrees the defendant is guilty except insane, the court will sentence the defendant to the presumptive term at the Arizona State Hospital. The court can find the defendant guilty except insane even if the defendant is competent to stand trial.
If you or a loved one is charged with a crime, and you believe you or your loved one may not be competent to stand trial, please contact the Law Office of Vladimir Gagic, PLLC to protect your rights.