The state’s highest court has upheld a law that simplifies the process for holding mentally ill people charged with violent felonies after efforts to restore their competency fail.
The Washington Supreme Court has upheld a 2013 law that simplifies the process for holding mentally ill people charged with violent felonies after efforts to restore their competency fail.
If a person is found incompetent to stand trial and treatment doesn’t work, the charges against them are dropped. The new law lets the state quickly commit those offenders for extended periods if prosecutors can show the person is likely to commit another violent act.
Lawyers for two offenders challenged the law, arguing it violated their rights. A trial court commissioner agreed and found the law unconstitutional.
But on Thursday, the state’s highest court reversed that ruling.
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The justices said the government has an interest in protecting the public from violent individuals. They said the law only slightly modifies the process for committing a specific group of mentally ill people.