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A trial court judge in any criminal case can, based on his discretion, order a psychological evaluation of the defendant.  The judge’s authority to order such an evaluation is found in M.G.L. c. 123, § 15

Justifications for the evaluation exist any time serious questions arise regarding the defendant’s competence to stand trial. An evaluation is also proper when the defendant’s mental illness brings into question his criminal responsibility for the alleged crimes.

Whenever possible, the evaluation will take place at the courthouse or, if the defendant is detained, at the place of confinement.

The statute also provides that

The court may order that the person be hospitalized at a facility or, if such person is a male and appears to require strict security, at the Bridgewater state hospital, for a period not to exceed twenty days.

This 20-day commitment can be extended to 40 days, if requested by the facility’s superintendent and allowed by the judge.

The clinician conducting the evaluation will provide the court with a written statement outlining the evaluation’s findings. The clinician will also provide the court with an opinion letter based on the findings.

After receiving the clinician’s findings and recommendations, the judge may deem the defendant competent to stand trial or hold a hearing to determine whether the defendant lacks competency.

The statute also provides that

At any time before trial any party to the case may request a hearing on whether the defendant is competent to stand trial.

If the court concludes that the defendant is not competent to stand trial, the case shall be stayed until he becomes competent or the case may be dismissed by the prosecution.