Deleterious Effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder on Competency to Stand Trial

Jerrod Brown, Jeff Haun, Natalie Novic Brown, Patricia A. Zapf


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol, produces brain damage that leads to an array of cognitive, social, and adaptive disabilities.  Related symptoms may include suggestibility and confabulation contributing to inaccurate testimony and false confessions.  Complicating matters, functional impairments associated with the disorder may not be readily apparent to legal and forensic mental health professionals, which can lead to misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis.  Improving identification of this disorder and conducting thorough and reliable competency evaluations is important in order to protect the constitutional rights’ of defendants.


Keywords: Competency to stand trial, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), legal





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