How do courts determine when a youth is competent to stand trial? What do they do if a youth is found "incompetent" for court proceedings? Most states lack statutory guidance to answer these questions, and tend to rely on standards set up for adults.
In this policy update, NJJN outlines the ways that adolescence complicates assessment of competency, and makes recommendations for policymakers to create flexible, but age-appropriate guidelines. The document draws on Developing Statutes for Competence to Stand Trial in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings: A Guide for Lawmakers, a 91-page guide published by Models for Change, and is intended to be an accessible introduction to the key issues for advocates and busy policymakers.