H.B. 2014 78(R)    BILL ANALYSIS

H.B. 2014
By: Keel
Criminal Jurisprudence
Committee Report (Unamended)


Last session, the Legislature passed S.B. 553, which created a 16-member
task force to review the statutes and practices with respect to
determining whether a criminal defendant is competent to stand trial. That
task force met for the last two years and developed a number of
recommendations to ensure appropriate and consistent application of
criminal competency laws.  From the outset, all interested parties agreed
that the current criminal competency statute was complex, confusing and
very difficult to use. House Bill 2014 creates a new criminal competency
statute to streamline the process and ensure consistency in its
application across the state. 


It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any
additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or


House Bill 2014 amends the Criminal Procedure, Family, and Health & Safety
codes relating to the competency of a defendant charged with a felony or
with a misdemeanor punishable by confinement. A person is incompetent if
he does not have sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer
with a reasonable degree of rational understanding or have a rational, as
well as a factual, understanding of the proceedings against him. In
addition, any party, or the court, may raise the issue of competency.  

If the court finds there is evidence to support a finding of incompetency,
the court is required to order a competency evaluation and stay all other
proceedings in the case. Upon a finding of incompetency, the defendant may
be committed for up to 120 days for treatment to restore the defendant to
competency or be released on bail, provided that the defendant is not a
danger to others. 

The bill outlines the qualifications for experts providing the
examinations, as well as the factors experts are to consider and include
in their reports. It also streamlines the procedure for an extended
commitment to a mental health facility if the defendant cannot be restored
within the 120-day period. 

A provision to the statute outlines a due process procedure whereby a
defendant, who has been restored to competency yet refused to take his
medication, can be forced to do so. 


January 1, 2004.