2021 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 11 - Juvenile Code
Article 7 - Competency in Delinquency or Child in Need of Services Cases
§ 15-11-653. Evaluation of a Child's Mental Condition; Procedures; Written Reports; Additional Evaluations

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-11-653 (2021)
  1. The court ordered evaluation and report shall be conducted by an examiner who shall consider whether a child is incompetent to proceed. The court shall provide the examiner with any law enforcement or court records necessary for understanding the petition alleging delinquency. The attorney for the child being examined and the prosecuting attorney shall provide the examiner with any records from any other available sources that are deemed necessary for the competency evaluation.
  2. The competency evaluation shall be performed on an outpatient basis; provided, however, that if a child is in an out-of-home placement, the evaluation shall be performed at such child's location.
  3. The examiner who conducts the evaluation shall submit a written report to the court within 30 days of receipt of the court order for evaluation. The court may, in its discretion, grant the examiner an extension in filing such report. The report shall contain the following:
    1. The specific reason for the evaluation, as provided by the court or the party requesting 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 if any and description of any psychiatric symptoms, cognitive deficiency, or both;
    5. A description of a child's abilities and deficits in the following mental competency functions:
      1. The ability to understand and appreciate the nature and object of the proceedings;
      2. The ability to comprehend his or her situation in relation to the proceedings; and
      3. The ability to assist his or her attorney in the preparation and presentation of his or her case;
    6. An opinion regarding the potential significance of a child's mental competency, strengths, and deficits;
    7. An opinion regarding whether or not a child should be considered incompetent to proceed; and
    8. A specific statement explaining the reasoning supporting the examiner's final determination.
  4. If, in the opinion of the examiner, a child should be considered incompetent to proceed, the report shall also include the following:
    1. An opinion on whether the primary cause of incompetency to proceed is immaturity, mental illness, developmental disability, or a combination of mental illness and developmental disability;
    2. An opinion on whether there is a substantial probability that the examined child will attain the mental competency necessary to participate in adjudication, a disposition hearing, or a transfer hearing in the foreseeable future;
    3. If the examiner believes that the examined child will attain mental competency, recommendations for the general level and type of competency remediation services necessary for significant deficits;
    4. A recommendation on the appropriate treatment or services;
    5. A recommendation as to the least restrictive setting in which competency remediation services may be effectively provided to such child if he or she is in a secure residential facility or nonsecure residential facility and how such detention should continue;
    6. When appropriate, recommendations for modifications of court procedure which may help compensate for mental competency weaknesses; and
    7. Any relevant medication history.
  5. If the examiner determines that the examined child is currently competent because of ongoing treatment with medication or other services, the report shall address the necessity of continuing such treatment and shall include a description of any limitation such treatment may have on competency.
  6. Copies of the written evaluation report shall be provided by the court to the attorney representing the examined child, the prosecuting attorney or a member of his or her staff, and any guardian ad litem for the examined child no later than five days after receipt of the report by the court.
  7. Upon a showing of good cause by any party or upon the court's own motion, the court may order additional evaluations by other licensed psychologists or psychiatrists. In no event shall more than one evaluation be conducted by an examiner employed by DBHDD.

(Code 1981, §15-11-653, enacted by Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 1-1/HB 242; Ga. L. 2017, p. 604, § 2-1/SB 175.)

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