Understanding of legal proceedings: The first step in a competency evaluation is to ensure that clients understand the legal proceedings. This includes understanding the charges being brought against them, knowing the definition of a plea bargain, understanding the different roles of court personnel, and understanding what it means to plead guilty or not guilty.
Ability to assist in the case: Another major area of examination when determining competency to stand trial is clients’ ability to assist in the case. This requires the defendant to possess rational as well as factual understanding of his/her case. This means that the defendant was not mentally compromised in that he/she is being able to make rational decision, to recall pertinent events and information, taking an active role in planning a legal defense, and testifying on their own behalf.