Child Study & Treatment Center Forensic Services

When the court becomes concerned about a youth’s ability to participate in legal proceedings, the youth may be referred to CSTC Forensic Services for a forensic mental health evaluation. CSTC Forensic Services provides a variety of evaluations related to the juvenile and adult courts under RCW 10.77 as extended by case law. Depending on circumstances, other evaluations may also occur.

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Typical assessments include:

  • Competence to Proceed to Adjudication: Competence evaluations of minors assess whether the youth’s abilities to understand the legal system and work with his lawyer (whether in juvenile court or adult court) are impacted by symptoms of mental illness, developmental disability or developmental immaturity.
  • Mental State at the Time of the Offense: This evaluation considers whether symptoms of mental illness influenced a youth’s behavior at the time of the offense. Special conditions have to be met before CSTC can evaluate this aspect of a youth’s history.
  • Psychological Assessment and Diagnoses: Clinical assessments of youth to determine the presence of a developmental disability or mental illness, as well as individual differences in typical development. This evaluation is done only in the context of responding to a relevant court order.

In addition, as time allows, the following evaluations may be available:

  • “Infancy” or “Capacity”: Some youth under the age of 12 may appear too young to understand that their behavior was wrong, and an assessment of this problem can assist the court in deciding how best to respond to the youth’s behavior.
  • Declination: Adolescents charged with certain types of offenses are automatically moved into the adult criminal court setting. An assessment of this type evaluates three criteria that may be considered by the court in deciding whether to move the case back to juvenile court.
  • Competence to Waive Miranda Rights: Individuals who are arrested are read a list of rights at the time of arrest typically referred to as “Miranda rights.” An evaluation of this kind may be conducted when there is uncertainty about the youth’s ability to comprehend what he was told.

Child Study & Treatment Center Forensic Evaluators are experts in matters of juvenile court, adult court, and child/adolescent development and psychopathology. Assessments are conducted using best practices in forensic and clinical practice. Evaluations are performed only upon receipt of an order from the court. We also need the charging information and discovery.