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Mental Competency

Definition - What does Mental Competency mean?

In general, mental competency refers to an individual's ability to partake in certain activities that require a certain level of mental sharpness. Mental competency is usually inquired about during certain legal proceedings or in times where a potentially mentally incapacitated person could be in charge of something of a serious nature.

Justipedia explains Mental Competency

For example, if a person is to testify in court, that person must be mentally competent to do so. If it is known that the person is not mentally competent due to some sort of disorder that causes the individual to not be able to differentiate reality from fiction, then this person will almost surely be unable to testify in court due to his or her mental incapacity. Another situation wherein mental capacity is an issue is with a person's finances. If somebody is left permanently or temporarily brain dead due to an injury, a court will assign another person to be responsible for the injured person's finances due to mental incapacity. Mental compentency is also important for criminal defendants. If a defendant's mental competency is called into question during a case, then experts are called in to evaluate the defendant. A recommendation about the person's mental abilities is then relayed to the judge by the experts.

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