Chapter 13 - Mental Competency of Accused

Chapter 13 - Mental Competency of Accused

46.1301 Application of 46.1301 through 46.310.


Under 46.1301 through 46.l3l0 and 46.3216, the following persons are subject to confine-ment for mental incompetency or insanity in American Samoa:

(1) defendants found mentally incompetent to stand criminal trial; or

(2) defendants found insane at the time of the commission of a criminal act.

46.1302 Procedure on plea of not guilty.


Where a defendant pleads not guilty to the commission of a criminal act, then, before the defendant is subject to confinement under subsection (2) of 46.1301, it must first be found that the defendant committed the criminal act charged.

46.1303 Motion for examination.


The court may order a mental examination of a defendant upon motion of the defendant or the government, or upon the court’s own motion, at any time before judgment.

46.1304 Order for examination.


(a) Upon the order of the court, a defendant undergoes a mental examination by a psychiatrist or other person medically or otherwise qualified to give an opinion of the defend-ant’s mental condition.

(b) Unless otherwise specified by the court, the scope of the examination pertains to wheth-er:

(1) the defendant is mentally competent to stand trial; and

(2) the defendant was sane at the time of the commission of the criminal act charged.

46.1305 Hearing to determine status.


Upon completion of the mental examination of the defendant, the court conducts a hearing to determine the defendant’s mental status. If on the basis of the hearing the court finds:

(1) That the defendant is not mentally competent to stand trial, then the court orders the defendant confined. If the defendant is confined on this basis only, the order shall contain a provision for a hearing within 120 days, unless, for good cause shown, the court orders an extension not to exceed 120 days. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether there is a substantial probability that the defendant will recover mental competence to stand trial within 1 year from the date of the hearing or the maximum imprisonment imposable under the charge filed against the defendant whichever is lesser. If the court determines there is a substantial probability that the defendant will attain mental competence to stand trial within that period, then the defendant may be further confined; provided, that confinement is justified by progress toward attainment of competency to stand trial and is accompanied by appropriate mental health care and treatment. If the court determines at the hearing or any time later that there is not a substantial probability that the defendant will attain mental competence to stand trial within that period, then the defendant must be released or recommitted under alternative commitment procedures.

(2) That the defendant was insane at the time of the commission of the criminal act, then the court shall order the defendant to be confined, unless it appears to the court that the defendant has fully recovered his sanity, in which case the defendant is released. After a finding of insanity and within 6 months, an additional hearing is held to determine whether the defendant’s sanity has been fully recovered. Upon a finding that defendant’s sanity has not been recovered, the defendant may make further applications for hearings on the defendant’s recovery of sanity provided that 1 year elapses between the applications, and further provided that:

(A) the burden of proving recovery of sanity is on the defendant;

(B) upon the expiration of the maximum imprisonment imposable against the defendant provided by virtue of the criminal charges filed against defendant, the defendant must be released or recommitted according to alternative commitment procedures.

46.1306 Presumptions-Evidence.


(a) All persons are presumed sane or mentally competent.

(b) In the sound discretion of the court, any evidence may be received relative to the defendant’s mental competence or sanity at any proceeding to determine that competence or sanity. Within this framework, traditional rules of evidence affect the weight, but not the admissibility, of evidence.

46.1307 Proceedings after sanity determination.


Criminal proceedings may be resumed against a defendant after a finding by the court that:

(1) the defendant, previously found incompetent to stand trial, is now competent to do so; or

(2) the defendant is found mentally competent at the hearing preceding the mental exami-nation to determine the defendant’s competency.

46.1308 Confinement.


All orders for confinement pertain to confinement in a correctional facility in American Samoa; provided, that the court is authorized to establish other places, both within and outside American Samoa, for confinement or treatment of a particular person confined by virtue of the provisions of this chapter; and provided that the court may establish and require the defendant to observe a program of mental treatment to be carried out at the place of confinement or elsewhere.

46.1309 Treatment as outpatient.


A defendant in a criminal case whose mental incompetence or insanity has been stipulated by the parties, or who has been found incompetent or insane under 46.1301 through 46.1310 and 46.3216, may, by stipulation of the parties and the permission of the court, be treated as an outpatient of a mental health facility without required confinement. In that instance the court may make orders as it sees fit for the mental treatment and physical placement of the defendant.

46.1310 Jurisdiction of the High Court.


Proceedings under 46.1301 through 46.1310 and 46.3216, are heard by the court which has jurisdiction over the charged criminal offense.