ARS 13-4517 Example Case

Arizona Revised Statutes 13-4517 states in pertinent part: If the court finds that a defendant is incompetent to stand trial and that there is no substantial probability that the defendant will regain competency within twenty-one months after the date of the original finding of incompetency, any party may request that the court: 1. Remand the defendant to the custody of the department of health services for the institution of civil commitment proceedings pursuant to title 36, chapter 5. In In re MH 2008-000028, 221 Ariz. 277, 211 P.3d 1261 (App. 2009), the patient had been arrested, and prior to trial, the criminal court ordered an evaluation of his competency pursuant to Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 11. Id. at3. Ultimately, the court found the patient was not competent to stand trial with no substantial probability of being restored to competency. Id. at4. At the Rule 11 hearing, the court also ordered the patient to be taken for inpatient evaluation pursuant to A.R.S. 36-530. Id. at5. The State filed an "Application for Involuntary Evaluation." While similar, this was not a Petition for Court-Ordered Evaluation as required by the statute. Id. at 280,6, 211 P.3d at 1264. Thereafter, the State filed a Petition for Court-Ordered Treatment and the court issued an order for the patient to undergo inpatient treatment. Id. at9. Thus, in MH 2008-000028, the State failed to strictly comply with the involuntary commitment statutes; it did not file a petition for court-ordered evaluation before filing an application for involuntary evaluation and conducting an evaluation pursuant to court order. Id. at 6-7. On appeal, the patient argued that "the court acted without proper authority when it ordered him to undergo an involuntary evaluation and subsequent treatment" without the State first filing a petition for evaluation. Id. at 281,14, 211 P.3d at 1265. The Court rejected the patient's argument stating that rather than strictly applying the civil commitment statutes, it was tasked with "harmonizing the provisions of the civil commitment statutes and those of a related criminal statute," A.R.S. 13-4517(1) (2010). Id. at15. The court reasoned that when an individual is arrested and determined incompetent to stand trial "the process for civil commitment can take a different course." Id. at18. The patient in MH 2008-000028 had been found incompetent to stand trial and non-restorable. Id. As a result, under A.R.S. 13-4517(1) the trial court had authority to place the patient in custody of the department of health services for civil commitment. Id.; A.R.S. 13-4517(1). The Court determined that, although a court-ordered involuntary evaluation not based on a petition for evaluation is generally invalid, in a case where "the trial court first acts pursuant to A.R.S. 13-4517(1), rather than A.R.S. 36-501, et seq., the court's authority to act is not predicated on its review of a petition for evaluation." 221 Ariz. at 281-82,19, 211 P.3d at 1265-66.