HBA-BSM H.B. 1581 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1581 By: Coleman Criminal Jurisprudence 4/12/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE There are sometimes cases in the criminal system in which defendants standing trial are not mentally fit to do so, and consequently face jail terms rather than receiving the treatment that the state of their mental health requires. Under current law, court appointed evaluators are not required to follow standards or have any specialized training in conducting trial competency evaluations. Subsequently, many incompetent defendants stand trial. Standardized procedures and protocol may help to better identify defendants who are incompetent. House Bill 1581 establishes a standard protocol recorded by evaluators to provide the necessary procedural information and medical opinions to the courts and transfer facilities. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 1581 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to require a court to appoint an expert experienced and qualified by education and training in mental health and retardation and experienced in forensic evaluation to gather background information to determine a defendant's level of competency to stand trial. The bill prohibits the court from ordering a defendant to submit to an examination until a defendant has retained an attorney to represent the defendant if the examiner concludes that the defendant is incompetent to stand trial, the bill requires the examiner to submit a separate report setting forth the examiner's findings and opinions concerning whether the defendant is a person who meets the criteria for court-ordered inpatient mental health services or whether the defendant is a person with mental retardation and meets the criteria for commitment to a residential care facility (Arts. 46.02 and 46.03). The bill requires a sheriff no later than 72 hours after receiving evidence or a statement that may establish reasonable cause that a defendant is incompetent to stand trial to notify a magistrate of the fact. The bill sets forth provisions for the evaluation of such defendants and specifies matters to be included in the evaluation of the defendant (Art. 16.22). EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.