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Chapter 27     Entire Code
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Chapter 27  |  Article 27 - 6A  |  Section 5
WVC 27- CHAPTER 27. MENTALLY ILL PERSONS.
WVC 27 - 6 A- ARTICLE 6A. COMPETENCY AND CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY OF PERSONS CHARGED OR CONVICTED OF A CRIME.
WVC 27 - 6 A- 1 §27-6A-1. Qualified forensic evaluator; qualified forensic psychiatrist; qualified forensic psychologist; definitions and requirements.
(a) For purposes of this article:

(1) A "qualified forensic psychiatrist" is:

(A) A psychiatrist licensed under the laws in this state to practice medicine who has completed post-graduate education in psychiatry in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education; and

(B) Board eligible or board certified in forensic psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology or actively enrolled in good standing in a West Virginia training program accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education to make the evaluator eligible for board certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in forensic psychiatry or has two years of experience in completing court-ordered forensic criminal evaluations, including having been qualified as an expert witness by a West Virginia circuit court. (2) A "qualified forensic psychologist" is:

(A) A licensed psychologist licensed under the laws of this state to practice psychology; and

(B) Board eligible or board certified in forensic psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology or actively enrolled in good standing in a West Virginia training program approved by the American Board of Forensic Psychology to make the evaluator eligible for board certification in forensic psychology or has at least two years of experience in performing court-ordered forensic criminal evaluations, including having been qualified as an expert witness by a West Virginia circuit court.

(3) A "qualified forensic evaluator" is either a qualified forensic psychiatrist or a qualified forensic psychologist as defined in this section.

(4) "Department" means the Department of Health and Human Resources.

(b) No qualified forensic evaluator may perform a forensic evaluation on an individual under this chapter if the qualified forensic evaluator has been the individual's treating psychologist or psychiatrist within one year prior to any evaluation order.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 2 §27-6A-2. Competency of defendant to stand trial; cause for appointment of qualified forensic evaluator; written report; observation period.
(a) Whenever a court of record has reasonable cause to believe that a defendant in which an indictment has been returned, or a warrant or summons issued, may be incompetent to stand trial it shall, sua sponte or upon motion filed by the state or by or on behalf of the defendant, at any stage of the proceedings order a forensic evaluation of the defendant's competency to stand trial to be conducted by one or more qualified forensic psychiatrists, or one or more qualified forensic psychologists. If a court of record or other judicial officer orders both a competency evaluation and a criminal responsibility or diminished capacity evaluation, the competency evaluation shall be performed first, and if a qualified forensic evaluator is of the opinion that a defendant is not competent to stand trial, no criminal responsibility or diminished capacity evaluation may be conducted without further order of the court. The initial forensic evaluation may not be conducted at a state inpatient mental health facility unless the defendant resides there.

(b) The court shall require the party making the motion for the evaluation, and other parties as the court considers appropriate, to provide to the qualified forensic evaluator appointed under subsection (a) of this section any information relevant to the evaluations within ten business days of its evaluation order. The information shall include, but not be limited to:

(1) A copy of the warrant or indictment;

(2) Information pertaining to the alleged crime, including statements by the defendant made to the police, investigative reports and transcripts of preliminary hearings, if any;

(3) Any available psychiatric, psychological, medical or social records that are considered relevant;

(4) A copy of the defendant's criminal record; and

(5) If the evaluations are to include a diminished capacity assessment, the nature of any lesser included criminal offenses.

(c) A qualified forensic evaluator shall schedule and arrange for the prompt completion of any court-ordered evaluation which may include record review and defendant interview and shall, within ten business days of the date of the completion of any evaluation, provide to the court of record a written, signed report of his or her opinion on the issue of competency to stand trial. If it is the qualified forensic evaluator's opinion that the defendant is not competent to stand trial, the report shall state whether the defendant is substantially likely to attain competency within the next three months and, in order to attain competency to stand trial, whether the defendant requires inpatient management in a mental health facility. The court may extend the ten-day period for filing the report if a qualified forensic evaluator shows good cause to extend the period, but in no event may the period exceed thirty days. If there are no objections by the state or defense counsel, the court may, by order, dismiss the requirement for a written report if the qualified forensic evaluator's opinion may otherwise be made known to the court and interested parties.

(d) If the court determines that the defendant has been uncooperative during the forensic evaluation ordered pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or there have been one or more inadequate or conflicting forensic evaluations performed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and the court has reason to believe that an observation period is necessary in order to determine if a person is competent to stand trial, the court may order the defendant be committed to a mental health facility designated by the department for a period not to exceed fifteen days and an additional evaluation be conducted in accordance with subsection (a) of this section by one or more qualified forensic psychiatrists, or a qualified forensic psychiatrist and a qualified forensic psychologist. The court shall order that at the conclusion of the fifteen-day observation period the sheriff of the county where the defendant was charged shall take immediate custody of the defendant for transportation and disposition as ordered by the court.

(e) A mental health facility not operated by the state is not obligated to admit and treat a defendant under this section.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 3 §27-6A-3. Competency of defendant to stand trial determination; preliminary finding; hearing; evidence; disposition.
(a) Within five days of the receipt of the qualified forensic evaluator's report and opinion on the issue of competency to stand trial, the court of record shall make a preliminary finding on the issue of whether the defendant is competent to stand trial and if not competent whether there is a substantial likelihood that the defendant will attain competency within the next three months. If the court of record orders, or if the state or defendant or defendant's counsel within twenty days of receipt of the preliminary findings requests, a hearing, then a hearing shall be held by the court of record within fifteen days of the date of the preliminary finding, absent good cause being shown for a continuance. If a hearing order or request is not filed within twenty days, the preliminary findings of the court become the final order.

(b) At a hearing to determine a defendant's competency to stand trial the defendant has the right to be present and he or she has the right to be represented by counsel and introduce evidence and cross-examine witnesses. The defendant shall be afforded timely and adequate notice of the issues at the hearing and shall have access to all forensic evaluator's opinions. All rights generally afforded a defendant in criminal proceedings shall be afforded to a defendant in the competency proceedings, except trial by jury.

(c) The court of record pursuant to a preliminary finding or hearing on the issue of a defendant's competency to stand trial and with due consideration of any forensic evaluation conducted pursuant to sections two and three of this article shall make a finding of fact upon a preponderance of the evidence as to the defendant's competency to stand trial based on whether or not the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with his or her lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and whether he or she has a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against him or her.

(d) If at any point in the proceedings the defendant is found competent to stand trial, the court of record shall forthwith proceed with the criminal proceedings.

(e) If at any point in the proceedings the defendant is found not competent to stand trial, the court of record shall at the same hearing, upon the evidence, make further findings as to whether or not there is a substantial likelihood that the defendant will attain competency within the next ensuing three months.

(f) If at any point in the proceedings the defendant is found not competent to stand trial and is found substantially likely to attain competency, the court of record shall in the same order, upon the evidence, make further findings as to whether the defendant requires, in order to attain competency, inpatient management in a mental health facility. If inpatient management is required, the court shall order the defendant be committed to an inpatient mental health facility designated by the department to attain competency to stand trial and for a competency evaluation. The term of this commitment may not exceed three months from the time of entry into the facility. However, upon request by the chief medical officer of the mental health facility and based on the requirement for additional management to attain competency to stand trial, the court of record may, prior to the termination of the three-month period, extend the period up to nine months from entry into the facility. A forensic evaluation of competency to stand trial shall be conducted by a qualified forensic evaluator and a report rendered to the court, in like manner as subsections (a) and (c), section two of this article, every three months until the court determines the defendant is not competent to stand trial and is not substantially likely to attain competency.

(g) If at any point in the proceedings the defendant is found not competent to stand trial and is found not substantially likely to attain competency and if the defendant has been indicted or charged with a misdemeanor or felony which does not involve an act of violence against a person, the criminal charges shall be dismissed. The dismissal order may, however, be stayed for twenty days to allow civil commitment proceedings to be instituted by the prosecutor pursuant to article five of this chapter. The defendant shall be immediately released from any inpatient facility unless civilly committed.

(h) If at any point in the proceedings the defendant is found not competent to stand trial and is found not substantially likely to attain competency, and if the defendant has been indicted or charged with a misdemeanor or felony in which the misdemeanor or felony does involve an act of violence against a person, then the court shall determine on the record the offense or offenses of which the person otherwise would have been convicted, and the maximum sentence he or she could have received. A defendant shall remain under the court's jurisdiction until the expiration of the maximum sentence unless the defendant attains competency to stand trial and the criminal charges reach resolution or the court dismisses the indictment or charge. The court shall order the defendant be committed to a mental health facility designated by the department that is the least restrictive environment to manage the defendant and that will allow for the protection of the public. Notice of the maximum sentence period with an end date shall be provided to the mental health facility. The court shall order a qualified forensic evaluator to conduct a dangerousness evaluation to include dangerousness risk factors to be completed within thirty days of admission to the mental health facility and a report rendered to the court within ten business days of the completion of the evaluation. The medical director of the mental health facility shall provide the court a written clinical summary report of the defendant's condition at least annually during the time of the court's jurisdiction. The court's jurisdiction shall continue an additional ten days beyond any expiration to allow civil commitment proceedings to be instituted by the prosecutor pursuant to article five of this chapter. The defendant shall then be immediately released from the facility unless civilly committed.

(i) If the defendant has been ordered to a mental health facility pursuant to subsection (h) of this section and the court receives notice from the medical director or other responsible official of the mental health facility that the defendant no longer constitutes a significant danger to self or others, the court shall conduct a hearing within thirty days to consider evidence, with due consideration of the qualified forensic evaluator's dangerousness report or clinical summary report to determine if the defendant shall be released to a less restrictive environment. The court may order the release of the defendant only when the court finds that the defendant is no longer a significant danger to self or others. When a defendant's dangerousness risk factors associated with mental illness are reduced or eliminated as a result of any treatment, the court, in its discretion, may make the continuance of appropriate treatment, including medications, a condition of the defendant's release from inpatient hospitalization. The court shall maintain jurisdiction of the defendant in accordance with said subsection. Upon notice that a defendant ordered to a mental health facility pursuant to said subsection who is released on the condition that he or she continues treatment does not continue his or her treatment, the prosecuting attorney shall, by motion, cause the court to reconsider the defendant's release. Upon a showing that defendant is in violation of the conditions of his or her release, the court shall reorder the defendant to a mental health facility under the authority of the department which is the least restrictive setting that will allow for the protection of the public.

(j) The prosecuting attorney may, by motion, and in due consideration of any chief medical officer's or forensic evaluator's reports, cause the competency to stand trial of a defendant subject to the court's jurisdiction pursuant to subsection (h) of this section or released pursuant to subsection (i) of this section to be determined by the court of record while the defendant remains under the jurisdiction of the court, and in which case the court may order a forensic evaluation of competency to stand trial be conducted by a qualified forensic evaluator and a report rendered to the court in like manner as subsections (a) and (c), section two of this article.

(k) Any defendant found not competent to stand trial may at any time petition the court of record for a hearing on his or her competency.

(l) Notice of court findings of a defendant's competency to stand trial, of commitment for inpatient management to attain competency, of dismissal of charges, of order for inpatient management to protect the public, of release or conditional release, or any hearings to be conducted pursuant to this section shall be sent to the prosecuting attorney, the defendant and his or her counsel, and the mental health facility. Notice of court release hearing or order for release or conditional release pursuant to subsection (i) of this section shall be made available to the victim or next of kin of the victim of the offense for which the defendant was charged. The burden is on the victim or next of kin of the victim to keep the court apprised of that person's current mailing address.

(m) A mental health facility not operated by the state is not obligated to admit or treat a defendant under this section.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 4 §27-6A-4. Criminal responsibility or diminished capacity evaluation; court jurisdiction over persons found not guilty by reason of mental illness.
(a) If the court of record finds, upon hearing evidence or representations of counsel for the defendant, that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant's criminal responsibility or diminished capacity will be a significant factor in his or her defense, the court shall appoint one or more qualified forensic psychiatrists or qualified forensic psychologists to conduct a forensic evaluation of the defendant's state of mind at the time of the alleged offense. However, if a qualified forensic evaluator is of the opinion that the defendant is not competent to stand trial that no criminal responsibility or diminished capacity evaluation may be conducted. The forensic evaluation may not be conducted at a state inpatient mental health facility unless the defendant has been ordered to a mental health facility in accordance with subsection (c), section two of this article or subsection (f) or (h), section three of this article. To the extent possible, qualified forensic evaluators who have conducted evaluations of competency under subsection (a), section two of this chapter shall be used to evaluate criminal responsibility or diminished capacity under this subsection.

(b) The court shall require the party making the motion for the evaluations, and other parties as the court considers appropriate, to provide to the qualified forensic evaluator appointed under subsection (a) of this section any information relevant to the evaluation within ten business days of its evaluation order. The information shall include, but not be limited to:

(1) A copy of the warrant or indictment;

(2) Information pertaining to the alleged crime, including statements by the defendant made to the police, investigative reports and transcripts of preliminary hearings, if any;

(3) Any available psychiatric, psychological, medical or social records that are considered relevant;

(4) A copy of the defendant's criminal record; and

(5) If the evaluation is to include a diminished capacity assessment, the nature of any lesser criminal offenses.

(c) A qualified forensic evaluator shall schedule and arrange within fifteen days of the receipt of appropriate documents the completion of any court-ordered evaluation which may include record review and defendant interview and shall, within ten business days of the date of the completion of any evaluation, provide to the court of record a written, signed report of his or her opinion on the issue of criminal responsibility and if ordered, on diminished capacity. The court may extend the ten-day period for filing the report if a qualified forensic evaluator shows good cause to extend the period, but in no event may the period exceed thirty days. If there are no objections by the state or defense counsel, the court may, by order, dismiss the requirement for a written report if the qualified forensic evaluator's opinion may otherwise be made known to the court and interested parties.

(d) If the court determines that the defendant has been uncooperative during a forensic evaluation ordered pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or there are inadequate or conflicting forensic evaluations performed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, and the court has reason to believe that an observation period and additional forensic evaluation or evaluations are necessary in order to determine if a defendant was criminally responsible or with diminished capacity, the court may order the defendant be admitted to a mental health facility designated by the department for a period not to exceed fifteen days and an additional evaluation be conducted and a report rendered in like manner as subsections (a) and (b) of this section by one or more qualified forensic psychiatrists or one or more qualified forensic psychologists. At the conclusion of the observation period, the court shall enter a disposition order and the sheriff of the county where the defendant was charged shall take immediate custody of the defendant for transportation and disposition as ordered by the court.

(e) If the verdict in a criminal trial is a judgment of not guilty by reason of mental illness, the court shall determine on the record the offense or offenses of which the acquitee could have otherwise been convicted, and the maximum sentence he or she could have received. The acquitee shall remain under the court's jurisdiction until the expiration of the maximum sentence or until discharged by the court. The court shall commit the acquitee to a mental health facility designated by the department that is the least restrictive environment to manage the acquitee and that will allow for the protection of the public. Notice of the maximum sentence period with end date shall be provided to the mental health facility. The court shall order a qualified forensic evaluator to conduct a dangerousness evaluation to include dangerousness risk factors to be completed within thirty days of admission to the mental health facility and a report rendered to the court within ten business days of the completion of the evaluation. The medical director of the mental health facility shall provide the court a written clinical summary report of the defendant's condition at least annually during the time of the court's jurisdiction. The court's jurisdiction continues an additional ten days beyond any expiration to allow civil commitment proceedings to be instituted by the prosecutor pursuant to article five of this chapter. The defendant shall then be immediately released from the facility unless civilly committed.

(f) In addition to any court-ordered evaluations completed pursuant to section two, three or four of this article, the defendant or the state has the right to an evaluation or evaluations by a forensic evaluator or evaluators of his or her choice and at his or her expense.

(g) A mental health facility not operated by the state is not required to admit or treat a defendant or acquitee under this section.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 5 §27-6A-5. Release of acquitee to less restrictive environment; discharge from jurisdiction of the court.
(a) If, at any time prior to the expiration of the court's jurisdiction, the chief medical officer or responsible official of the mental health facility to which an acquitee has been ordered pursuant to subsection (e), section four of this article believes that the acquitee is not mentally ill or does not have significant dangerousness risk factors associated with mental illness, he or she shall file with the court of record notice of the belief and shall submit evidence in support of the belief to include a forensic evaluation dangerousness report conducted in like manner as said subsection and recommendations for treatment, including medications, that reduce or eliminate the dangerousness risk factors associated with mental illness. The court of record shall hold a hearing within thirty days of receipt of the notice to consider evidence as to whether the acquitee shall be released from the mental health facility to a less restrictive environment. Notice of the hearing shall be made available to the prosecuting attorney responsible for the charges brought against the acquitee at trial, the acquitee and his or her counsel and the mental health facility. If upon consideration of the evidence the court determines that an acquitee may be released from a mental health facility to a less restrictive setting, the court shall order, within fifteen days of the hearing, the acquitee be released upon terms and conditions, if any, the court considers appropriate for the safety of the community and the well-being of the acquitee. Any terms and conditions imposed by the court must be protective and therapeutic in nature, not punitive. When a defendant's dangerousness risk factors associated with mental illness are reduced or eliminated as a result of any treatment, the court, in its discretion, may make the continuance of appropriate treatment, including medications, a condition of the defendant's release from inpatient hospitalization. The court shall maintain jurisdiction of the defendant in accordance with said subsection. Upon notice that an acquitee released on the condition that he or she continues appropriate treatment does not continue his or her treatment, the prosecuting attorney responsible for the charges brought against the acquitee at trial shall, by motion, cause the court to reconsider the acquitee's release and upon a showing that the acquitee is in violation of the conditions of his or her release, the court may reorder the acquitee to a mental health facility designated by the department which is the least restrictive setting appropriate to manage the acquitee and protect the public.

(b) No later than thirty days prior to the release from a mental health facility or other management setting of an acquitee because of the expiration of the court's jurisdiction as set in accordance with subsection (e), section four of this article, if the acquitee's physician, psychologist, chief medical officer or other responsible party is of the opinion that the acquitee's mental illness renders the acquitee to be likely to cause serious harm to self or others, the supervising physician, psychologist, chief medical officer or other responsible party shall notify the court of record who shall promptly notify the prosecuting attorney in the county of the court having jurisdiction of the opinion and the basis for the opinion. Following notification, the prosecuting attorney may file, within ten days, a civil commitment application against the acquitee pursuant to article five of this chapter.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 6 §27-6A-6. Judicial hearing of defendant's defense other than not guilty by reason of mental illness.
If a defendant who has been found to be not competent to stand trial believes that he or she can establish a defense of not guilty to the charges pending against him or her, other than the defense of not guilty by reason of mental illness, the defendant may request an opportunity to offer a defense thereto on the merits before the court which has criminal jurisdiction. If the defendant is unable to obtain legal counsel, the court of record shall appoint counsel for the defendant to assist him or her in supporting the request by affidavit or other evidence. If the court of record in its discretion grants such a request, the evidence of the defendant and of the state shall be heard by the court of record sitting without a jury. If after hearing such petition the court of record finds insufficient evidence to support a conviction, it shall dismiss the indictment and order the release of the defendant from criminal custody. The release order, however, may be stayed for ten days to allow civil commitment proceedings to be instituted by the prosecutor pursuant to article five of this chapter: Provided, That a defendant committed to a mental health facility pursuant to subsection (f) or (h), section three of this article shall be immediately released from the facility unless civilly committed.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 7 §27-6A-7. Release of defendant during course of criminal proceedings.
Notwithstanding any finding of incompetence to stand trial under the provisions of this article, the court of record may at any stage of the criminal proceedings allow a defendant to be released with or without bail.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 8 §27-6A-8. Credit for time; expenses.
(a) If a person is convicted of a crime, any time spent in involuntary confinement in a mental health facility as a result of being charged with the crime shall be credited to the sentence.

(b) All inpatient care and treatment shall be paid by the department.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 9 §27-6A-9. Competency to be adjudicated in juvenile court.
In a similar manner and in accordance with procedures set forth in subsection (a), section two of this article or subsection (a), section four of this article, a juvenile court may order a qualified forensic evaluator to conduct an evaluation of a juvenile to aid the court in its disposition under chapter forty-nine of this code. In a similar manner and in accordance with procedures set forth in subsection (d), section two of this article or subsection (d), section four of this article, a juvenile court may order a period of observation for an alleged delinquent or neglected juvenile at a mental health facility designated by the department to aid the court in its disposition. The period of observation may not exceed fifteen days.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 10 §27-6A-10. Medications and management of court-ordered individuals.
(a) At any time pursuant to section two, three or four of this article an individual is court ordered to a mental health facility, the individual has the right to receive treatment under the standards of medical management.

(b) An individual with health care decision-making capacity may refuse medications or other management unless court-ordered to be treated or unless a treating clinician determines that medication or other management is necessary in emergencies or to prevent danger to the individual or others.

WVC 27 - 6 A- 11 §27-6A-11. Payment to forensic evaluators.
The department shall pay qualified forensic evaluators for all matters related to conducting a court-ordered forensic evaluation. The department shall develop and implement a process for prompt payment to qualified forensic evaluators. The department shall establish policies and procedures for establishing a maximum rate schedule for each of the four evaluation types (competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, diminished capacity, dangerousness) to include all efforts towards the completion of each evaluation such as scheduling and administrative tasks, record review, psychological and other testing, interviews, report writing, research, preparation and consultation. Such policies and procedures shall include input from provider representatives as necessary and appropriate. Any rate schedule shall be fair and reasonable. The department shall consider requests for payment in excess of established rates or other expenses for good cause shown.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2014 1st Special Session
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