Frequently Asked Questions
WSS 971.14(2) Competency Examination:
If the Court is ordering the State Department of Health Services (DHS) to do the examination, then the court does not determine if the exam is done on an outpatient or inpatient basis. This determination will be made by the Wisconsin Forensic Unit (WFU), as the contracted service provider for DHS. Orders for competency evaluations should be faxed to WFU at 414-223-1817, along with the criminal complaint, and any questions regarding this process may be directed to their office at 414-278-4690.
We have a letter from WFU regarding a competency report, wherein they cannot offer an opinion and are referring the person for an inpatient exam, what do we do next?
The WFU report, criminal complaint, and original order form should be faxed to Mendota Mental Health Institute at 608-301-1358 to start the pre-admission process. Our department has 15 days to complete the examination, from the date the defendant is admitted to the institution, and the examiner may request an extension if needed. The defendant will be returned to the jail to await the Competency Hearing once the examination has been completed.
We are finding a defendant Not Competent and Not Likely to Become Competent (NC/NL), what do we do next?
The case may be dismissed outright, upon stipulation of all parties, or criminal charges may be dismissed and the court may seek conversion to a civil commitment. The case may be suspended and held open, using the form CR-280 “Order on Competency”. If the court is ordering that the defendant re-appear periodically to re-assess competency to proceed, a new CR-205 “Order for Competency Examination” will need to be completed for any subsequent reports. That form should be faxed to the Wisconsin Forensic Unit (WFU) at 414-223-1817, along with the criminal complaint.
When ordering a second opinion on a competency examination, you may use the CR-205 order form; however, the examiner appointed must be independent of DHS (Mendota or Winnebago Mental Health Institutes and Wisconsin Forensic Unit), and the examination is at the expense of the county or the defendant.
Can we order a competency examination and an examination on a plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Disease or Defect (NGI), at the same time?
Yes, but ONLY the competency examination can be ordered through Wisconsin Forensic Unit, and this examination is paid for by the State Department of Health Services. The NGI examination must have an independent examiner appointed by the court, using form CR-270, and this examination is at the expense of the county or the defendant.
The statutes that govern the juvenile competency examination process are different from the adult statutes, so a different order form is used in this process, and this examination is NOT covered by the State Department of Health Services. Please feel free to contact Dr. Deborah Collins at 414-278-4690 with additional questions regarding this process.
WSS 971.14(5) Commitment for Treatment to Competency:
If the court authorizes the involuntary administration of medications, then this should be noted under “The Court Finds” section of page one, by checking box #3 or #4. In conjunction with this the involuntary administration of medications must also be noted under “The Court Orders” section of page two, by checking box #7. If the court is NOT ordering the involuntary administration of medications at the time of the commitment, a notation to that effect is recommended.
A referral to the Outpatient Competency Restoration Program (OCRP), and any penalty enhancers that the court wishes to be applied to the length of the commitment, should also be noted under “The Court Orders” section of page two, on the line by #9.
What is the process for referring a defendant who was committed for treatment to competency, to the Outpatient Competency Restoration Program (OCRP)?
When completing the CR-206 “Order of Commitment for Treatment (Incompetency)”, please make a notation under “The Court Orders” section of page two, on the line by #9, that there is a “Referral to the OCRP”. The order, criminal complaint, and competency examination report should be faxed to the OCRP at 414-271-6667. Questions about the process may be directed to their office at 414-271-5577.
When should the court expect a progress report on a defendant who is committed for treatment to competency?
Statutorily progress reports are due to the court at the following intervals: three, six, and nine months after the commitment, as well as a final report and recommendation within thirty days prior to the commitment expiration date. NO additional order form is needed to receive the progress reports.
We received a progress report that offers the opinion that the defendant is now competent to proceed, or that the defendant is opined as being Not Competent and Not Likely to become competent within the statutory timeframe allowed under the commitment (NC/NL), do we have to conduct a hearing?
Yes, per the statute the court is to conduct a Competency Hearing within fourteen days of the court receiving the report, and the defendant is to be transported for the appearance. If the progress report simply offers the opinion that the defendant is still not competent, but is likely to become competent, then the court does not need to conduct a hearing unless requested by either party.
When ordering a second opinion on a progress report, you may use the CR-205 order form; however, the examiner appointed must be independent of DHS (Mendota or Winnebago Mental Health Institutes and Wisconsin Forensic Unit), and the examination is at the expense of the county or the defendant.
We are finding a defendant Not Competent and Not Likely to Become Competent (NC/NL), what do we do next?
The defendant is discharged from the commitment to the State Department of Health Services, and then there are a few options available to the court. The case may be dismissed outright, upon stipulation of all parties. The criminal charges may be dismissed, and the court may seek conversion to a civil commitment. The case may be suspended and held open, using the form CR-280 “Order on Competency”. If the court is ordering that the defendant re-appear periodically to re-assess competency to proceed, a new CR-205 “Order for Competency Examination” will need to be completed for any subsequent reports. That form should be faxed to the Wisconsin Forensic Unit (WFU) at 414-223-1817, along with the criminal complaint.
WSS 971.16(2) Examination of Defendant after NGI Plea:
Under the statute the Court is to appoint an examiner, and this exam is at the expense of the defendant/county. The Court Liaison Services office will provide a resource list of independent examiners upon request, but it is the responsibility of the Court to ensure that the examiner is appointed, and willing/available to complete the examination in the specified timeframe allowed.
WSS 971.17(1) Commitment of Persons Found NGI:
A defendant is being found Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Disease or Defect (NGI), but the defendant is an out-of-state resident. What happens now?
A statutory conflict exists in that the Department of Health Services (DHS), to which the defendant is now committed, does not have the authority to supervise conditional release clients across state lines. HSS 98.03(k) regarding out of state travel for individuals committed under WSS 971.17 indicates that conditional release clients “May not live, work, travel or be trained or educated in another state, because persons committed to the department under s. 971.17 or 980.06, Stats., are not covered by the interstate compact under s. 304.13 Stats., or by s. 304.135, Stats.” The court therefore has four options:
I. Order the defendant to relocate to Wisconsin under the NGI commitment status, on Conditional Release, where mental health services, new employment and a new residence would be established.
II. Commit the defendant to Mendota or Winnebago Mental Health Institution (the defendant may petition the court for conditional release after six months).
III. Convert (with defendant/defense/prosecution agreement) the NGI commitment to a probationary term. This would allow the possibility that the Department of Corrections could obtain an Interstate Compact transfer of supervision. This would avoid a disruption in the defendant’s current living situation and yet provide monitoring and supervision of his compliance with court ordered conditions of his probation.
IV. Terminate the NGI commitment.
WSS 971.17(2) Investigation & Examination after NGI Finding:
Ideally the Conditional Release (CR) Providers would like thirty days to complete the report. There are numerous Releases of Information (ROI) to be signed, records to be secured, and interviews to be held in order to provide the court with the most comprehensive picture of the defendant and substantiating the recommendation in the report.
After making a finding of NGI and signing the Order of Commitment, does the court need to order a PDI or SME to make a placement determination?
No, a PDI or SME should only be used if the court is seeking additional information and a recommendation as to whether the person is appropriate for placement in the community on conditional release (CR), or if institutional care is needed. If the court believes CR is appropriate, then the court should proceed with ordering the department to develop a CR Plan, using order form CR-274. If the court believes institutional care is needed, then the court should proceed with signing the Order for Placement, form CR-275.
WSS 971.17(4) Petition for Conditional Release (cases after 1/1/91):
A client may petition for Conditional Release (CR) if at least six months have passed since the initial commitment order, the most recent CR revocation, or the last denied petition. Within 20 days of receiving the petition, the court shall appoint an examiner independent of DHS (WFU, Mendota or Winnebago) using the CR-277, Order for Examination under §971.17(4)(c). This form should be accompanied by the criminal complaint and any records the examiner requests. Notice of the exam should be sent to the Court Liaison’s office. This report is due to the court within 30 days of the appointment. A hearing on the report is to be held within 30 days of receipt of the report. If CR is granted, the CR Provider is ordered to prepare a plan within 60 days, using form CR-274, Order for Conditional Release Plan. Once that hearing is held and the plan is approved, a CR-275, Order for Placement should be completed, noting this as a Subsequent placement.
WSS 971.17(5) Petition for Termination (cases after 1/1/91):
The petition shall be determined as promptly as practicable by the court without a jury. The court shall terminate the order of commitment unless it finds by clear and convincing evidence that further supervision is necessary to prevent a significant risk of bodily harm to the person or to others or of serious property damage. In making this determination, the court may consider, without limitation because of enumeration, the nature and circumstances of the crime, the person’s mental history and current mental condition, the person’s behavior while on conditional release, and plans for the person’s living arrangements, support, treatment and other required services after termination of the commitment order.
The Court Liaison Service office has a DHS & CR Provider Map available on the website.
The Registrars at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center coordinate the re-examination process under the Chapter 980 cases. They may be reached at 608-847-4438 and 608-847-1795.