2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 15 - COURTS
CHAPTER 11 - JUVENILE PROCEEDINGS
ARTICLE 4 - MENTAL HEALTH
§ 15-11-152 - Ordering evaluation of child's mental condition; conduct of evaluation; written report required; copies of report; additional examinations; admission in state's case-in-chief

O.C.G.A. 15-11-152 (2010)
15-11-152. Ordering evaluation of child's mental condition; conduct of evaluation; written report required; copies of report; additional examinations; admission in state's case-in-chief


(a) If at any time after the filing of a petition alleging delinquency or unruliness the court has reason to believe that the child named in the petition may not be mentally competent, the court on its own motion or on the motion of the attorney representing the child, any guardian ad litem for the child, the child's parent or legal guardian, or the attorney representing the state may stay all delinquency or unruly conduct proceedings relating to that petition and order an evaluation of the child's mental condition. Prior to the administration of any such evaluation, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the child if the child is not yet represented by counsel. All time limits under Article 1 of this chapter for adjudication and disposition of that petition are tolled during the evaluation, adjudication, and disposition phases of the mental competency proceeding.

(b) An evaluation ordered under subsection (a) of this Code section shall be conducted by a qualified examiner who shall consider whether the child is mentally competent. If the qualified examiner determines that the child is not competent, the qualified examiner shall complete a full mental health evaluation, study, and report pursuant to Code Section 15-11-149. If the basis for questioning the child's mental competency concerns a problem with intellectual functioning, mental retardation, mental illness, maturity, or a learning disability, the qualified examiner must be a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist. The juvenile court shall provide the qualified examiner with any law enforcement or court records necessary for understanding the petition alleging delinquency or unruliness. The attorney for the child may provide the qualified examiner with any records from any other available sources that are deemed necessary for the mental competency evaluation.

(c) A qualified examiner who conducts an evaluation under subsection (b) of this Code section shall submit a written report to the court, within 30 days from receipt of the court order requiring the evaluation, which report shall contain the following:

(1) The reason for the evaluation;

(2) The evaluation procedures used, including any psychometric instruments administered, any records reviewed, and the identity of any persons interviewed;

(3) Any available pertinent background information;

(4) The results of a mental status exam, including the diagnosis and description of any psychiatric symptoms, cognitive deficiency, or both;

(5) A description of abilities and deficits in the following mental competency functions:

(A) The ability to understand and appreciate the nature and object of the proceedings;

(B) The ability to comprehend his or her situation in relation to the proceedings; and

(C) The ability to render assistance to the defense attorney in the preparation of his or her case;

(6) An opinion regarding the potential significance of the child's mental competency, strengths, and deficits;

(7) An opinion regarding whether or not the child should be considered mentally competent; and

(8) A specific statement for the basis for a determination of incompetence.

(d) If, in the opinion of the qualified examiner, the child should not be considered mentally competent, the qualified examiner shall complete a full mental health evaluation and report pursuant to Code Section 15-11-149, and such report shall also include the following:

(1) A diagnosis made as to whether there is a substantial probability that the child will attain mental competency to participate in adjudication, a disposition hearing, and a transfer hearing in the foreseeable future;

(2) A recommendation as to the appropriate treatment setting and whether residential or nonresidential treatment is required or appropriate;

(3) Where appropriate, recommendations for the general level and type of remediation necessary for significant deficits; and

(4) Where appropriate, recommendations for modifications of court procedure which may help compensate for mental competency weaknesses.

(e) The court in its discretion may grant the qualified examiner an extension in filing the evaluation report.

(f) Copies of the written evaluation report shall be provided by the court to the attorney representing the child, the attorney representing the state, the prosecuting attorney or a member of his or her staff, and any guardian ad litem for the child no later than five working days after receipt of the report by the court.

(g) Upon a showing of good cause by any party or upon the court's own motion, the court may order additional examinations by other qualified examiners. In no event shall more than one examination be conducted by a qualified examiner employed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

(h) No statement made by a child or information obtained in the course of an evaluation, hearing, or other proceeding provided for in this Code section, whether the evaluation is with or without the consent of the child, shall be admitted into evidence against the child in any future proceeding in the state's case-in-chief.

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