Juveniles' Competence to Stand Trial: A Comparison of Adolescents' and Adults' Capacities as Trial Defendants
Abilities associated with adjudicative competence were assessed among 927 adolescents in juvenile detention facilities and community settings. Adolescents' abilities were compared to those of 466 young adults in jails and in the community. Participants at 4 locations across the United States completed a standardized measure of abilities relevant for competence to stand trial (the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool—Criminal Adjudication) as well as a new procedure for assessing psychosocial influences on legal decisions often required of defendants (MacArthur Judgment Evaluation). Youths aged 15 and younger performed more poorly than young adults, with a greater proportion manifesting a level of impairment consistent with that of persons found incompetent to stand trial. Adolescents also tended more often than young adults to make choices (e.g., about plea agreements) that reflected compliance with authority, as well as influences of psychosocial immaturity. Implications of these results for policy and practice are discussed, with an emphasis on the development of legal standards that recognize immaturity as a potential predicate of incompetence to stand trial.
Abramovitch, R., Peterson-Badali, J., & Rohan, M. (1995). Young people's understanding and assertion of their rights to silence and legal counsel. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 37, 1–18.
Bonnie, R. (1992). The competence of criminal defendants: A theoretical reformulation. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 10, 291–316.
Bonnie, R. (1993). The competence of criminal defendants: Beyond Dusky and Drope. Miami Law Review, 47, 539–601.
Bonnie, R., & Grisso, T. (2000). Adjudicative competence and youthful offenders. In T. Grisso & R. Schwartz (Eds.), Youth on trial: A developmental perspective on juvenile justice (pp. 73–103). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cooper, D. (1997). Juveniles' understanding of trial-related information: Are they competent defendants? Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 15, 167–180.
Cauffman, E., & Steinberg, L. (2000). (Im)maturity of judgment in adolescence: Why adolescents may be less culpable than adults. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 18, 741–760. Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402 (1960).
Fagan, J., & Zimring, F. (Eds.). (2000). The changing borders of juvenile justice: Transfer of adolescents to the criminal court. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Godinez v. Moran, 509 U.S. 389 (1993).
Grisso, T. (1980). Juveniles' capacities to waive Miranda rights: An empirical analysis. California Law Review, 68, 1134–1166.
Grisso, T. (1981). Juveniles' waiver of rights: Legal and psychological competence. New York: Plenum.
Grisso, T. (1997). The competence of adolescents as trial defendants. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 3, 3–32.
Grisso, T. (2000). What we know about youths' capacities as trial defendants. In T. Grisso & R. Schwartz (Eds.), Youth on trial: A developmental perspective on juvenile justice (pp. 139–171). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Grisso, T. (2002). Evaluating competencies: Forensic assessments and instruments (2nd ed.). New York: Kluwer/Plenum.
Grisso, T., & Appelbaum, P. (1998). Assessing competence to consent to treatment: A guide for physicians and other health care professionals. New York: Oxford University Press.
Grisso, T., & Barnum, R. (2000). Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument—Second Version: User's manual and technical report. Worcester: University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Grisso, T., Barnum, R., Fletcher, K., Cauffman, E., & Peuschold, D. (2001). Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument for mental health needs of juvenile justice youths. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 541–548.
Grisso, T., & Schwartz, R. (Eds.). (2000). Youth on trial: A developmental perspective on juvenile justice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hollingshead, A. (1975). Four factor index of social status. New Haven, CT: Department of Sociology, Yale University.
In the Matter of W.A.F., 573 A2d 1264 (D.C. 1990).
Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715 (1972).
Keating, D. (1990). Adolescent thinking. In S. Feldman and G. Elliott (Eds.), At the threshold: The developing adolescent (pp. 54–89). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 538 (1971).
Mumley, D., Tillbrook, C., & Grisso, T. (in press). Five year research update (1996–2000): Evaluations for competence to stand trial (adjudicative competence). Behavioral Sciences and the Law.
Ohio v. Settles, 13-97-50 (1998) Ohio App. LEXIS 4973 (Ohio App. 3rd Sept. 30, 1998).
Otto, R., Poythress, N., Edens, N., Nicholson, R., Monahan, J., Bonnie, R., Hoge, S., & Eisenberg, M. (1998). Psychometric properties of the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication. Psychological Assessment, 10, 435–443.
Peterson-Badali, M., & Abramovitch, R. (1993). Grade related changes in young people's reasoning about plea decisions. Law and Human Behavior, 17, 537–552.
Peterson-Badali, M., Abramovitch, R., & Duda, J. (1997). Young children's legal knowledge and reasoning ability. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 39, 145–170.
Poythress, N., Nicholson, R., Otto, R., Edens, J., Bonnie, R., Monahan, J., & Hoge, S. (1999). The MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool—Criminal Adjudication: Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
Psychological Corporation. (1999). Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corportation.
Redding, R., & Frost, L. (2002). Adjudicative competence in the modern juvenile court. Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, 9, 353–410.
Scott, E. (1992). Judgment and reasoning in adolescent decision making. Villanova Law Review, 37, 1607–1669.
Scott, E., Reppucci, N., & Woolard, J. (1995). Evaluating adolescent decision-making in legal contexts. Law and Human Behavior, 19, 221–244.
Snyder, H., & Sickmund, M. (1995). Juvenile offenders and victims: A national report. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Snyder, H., & Sickmund, M. (1999). Juvenile offenders and victims: 1999 national report. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Steinberg, L., & Cauffman, E. (1996). Maturity of judgment in adolescence: Psychosocial factors in adolescent decision-making. Law and Human Behavior, 20, 249–272.
Torbet, P., Gable, R., Hurst, H., Montgomery, I., Szymanski, L., & Thomas, D. (1996). State responses to serious and violent juvenile crime. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Woolard, J. (1998). Developmental aspects of judgment and competence in legally relevant contexts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Psychology Department, University of Virginia.
Woolard, J., Fried, C., & Reppucci, N. (2001). Toward an expanded definition of adolescent competence in legal situations. In R. Roesch, R. Corrado, & R. Dempster (Eds.), Psychology in the courts: International advances in knowledge (pp. 21–40). London: Routledge.
- Juveniles' Competence to Stand Trial: A Comparison of Adolescents' and Adults' Capacities as Trial Defendants
Law and Human Behavior
Volume 27, Issue 4 , pp 333-363
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers
- Additional Links
- legal competence
- juvenile justice
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, Massachusetts, 01655
- 2. Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 3. Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
- 4. Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- 5. School of Law, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
- 6. Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
- 7. Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
- 8. Juvenile Law Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania