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Suspect Mentally Able To Stand Trial

In October 2013, state District Judge Pamela O’Berry ruled that 23-year-old Herbert C. Bland, Jr. is competent to stand trial for murder. Mr. Bland, who has a history of mental illness, stands charged with the murder of two Chesterfield County women in January 2013. Mr. Bland is also implicated in the murder of a third person. In February 2013, Mr. Bland was declared incompetent to stand trial and sent to a mental facility. Mr. Bland’s York County criminal defense attorney agreed with Judge O’Berry’s ruling — he indicated that his client’s medication had been stabilized and that Mr. Bland was no longer incompetent. 

Incompetent or insane?

Insanity in Virginia usually involves the M’Naughton rule in some way, shape or form. Did the defendant understand the difference between right and wrong at the time of the offense? Mental competency, on the other hand, is not really related to the charged offense at all. A person is “incompetent to stand trial” if the person cannot understand the nature of the criminal proceedings. Mental incapacity falls into temporary or permanent categories: 

  • Temporary: Very often, as in Mr. Bland’s case, a defendant is incompetent because the defendant is not properly medicated or receiving the proper treatment. In these cases, the defendant is committed to a mental institution until the defendant regains competency.
  • Permanent: Other times, the defendant’s mental competency is un-restorable, meaning that the defendant can never understand the proceedings as a result of a severe deficiency. In such a case, the defendant is sent to a secure mental facility on a permanent basis. 

For a free consultation with a defense attorney who understands the criminal process, call The Hunter Law Firm.

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