Skip to Content

Division of Planning, Research & Forensics

Forensic Services


Pre-trial evaluations for competency to stand trial and/or mental condition at the time of the crime (insanity defense) are provided only under court order.

The department contracts with community mental health providers to provide pre-trial evaluations. If the outpatient provider is unable to determine a defendant’s competency to stand trial or mental condition at the time of the crime, or if the defendant’s current clinical condition requires immediate hospitalization, it is recommended to the court that the defendant be referred to an inpatient facility for further evaluation.

This inpatient evaluation, by statute, is limited to a maximum of 30 days. Inpatient evaluations and treatment are provided only after referral by a community mental health provider to the regional mental health institute serving the area or, when maximum security is required, at the Forensic Services Program at Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute. The community mental health provider that refers the defendant for an inpatient evaluation also provides an assessment of need for security.

When a defendant is either found not competent to stand trial and committable or competent and committable (commitment criteria under T.C.A. § 33-6-501) because of mental illness, pre-trial treatment (T.C.A.§ 33-7-301(b)) is ordered by the court. The length of stay in the inpatient setting under T.C.A.§ 33-7-301(b) depends on the defendant’s progress in treatment and continued committability. The defendant can remain in the hospital only if committable. The RMHI regularly reports to the court on the defendant’s committability and progress toward competency to stand trial.

Forensic & Juvenile Court Services Links