Compulsory Medication, Trial Competence, and Penal Theory

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Abstract

Due process requires that a criminal defendant must satisfy a number of minimal conditions with regard to his/her cognitive abilities, i.e. that the defendant possesses trial competence. But what if a defendant —for instance, as a result of a mental disorder —does not possess the requisite competence? Would it be morally acceptable for the state to forcibly subject a defendant to psychotropic medication in order to restore his/her competence to stand trial? In this article it is argued that the reason that has constituted the main argument in favor of forcible medication of defendants —namely, that the state has an essential interest in convicting and sentencing defendants who are guilty of crime —is not as strong as has been assumed and may even, under certain conditions, speak against the use of forcible medication of trial incompetent defendants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLaw, ethics and philosophy
Volume4
Pages (from-to)61-82
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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