Expert Testimony in Criminal Court

  • Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial:  Dr. Williams uses a standardized competency measure, the ECST-R, which carefully and systematically walks the defendant through his or her understanding of the various aspects of the courtroom process, assesses his or her ability to cooperate with the attorney in an effective manner, and assesses for feigning incompetence.  The ECST-R is predicated on the Dusky standard. Dr. Williams has also testified in challenges to restoration of competency, involving individuals who have remained incompetent even after State Hospital treatment.
  • Evaluation of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity:  Dr. Williams evaluates defendants for the insanity defense, being mindful of both the M’Naughton and ALI standards.  In addition, according to its relevance to the jurisdiction, Dr. Williams can offer testimony regarding Mental State at the Time of the Offense as well as Diminished Capacity in jurisdictions where this is considered acceptable expert testimony.
  • Mental health diversion: Dr. Williams has evaluated and submitted reports on individuals seeking pretrial mental health diversion under a relatively new California law. This law applies to individuals whose criminal behavior was exclusively the result of treatable mental health conditions.
  • Psychological mitigation of criminal charges:  A psychological evaluation of a criminal defendant can be an important aspect of a plea negotiation. In many cases, the individual charged with the crime does not fit the expectable profile of the offender and may not warrant the same disposition. A thorough psychological assessment can assist the district attorney in understanding the defendant's motivation for the crime and likelihood of re-offending. In other cases, mitigation is not appropriate. Dr. Williams has assisted criminal defense attorneys in helping their clients understand the difficulty of their cases, the likely viewpoint of the jury, and why a trial should be avoided.
  • Restoration of sanity: Dr. Williams has testified in numerous cases in which the NGI individual has been treated at a state hospital wishes to be restored to sanity and released to the community. Dr. Williams evaluates patients at state hospitals throughout California.
  • Evaluation of Recidivism Risk: Dr. Williams uses standardized measures to assess the risk of reoffence and of violent reoffence.  Dr. Williams employs the following measures to make these determinations:  LS/CMI (recidivism risk), HCR-20 (violence risk), PCL-R (psychopathy and violence risk) and the Static 99R (risk of sexual reoffense).  All of these measures are valid predictors of their respective target criteria.
  • Evaluation of Sexually Violent Predators: California law provides for psychological evaluations to determine whether an individual is a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) as defined by Welfare and Institutions Code Section 6600. Typically, the centerpiece of such an evaluation is a determination of the cause of the individual’s prior sexual offenses. If the offenses were the result of a mental disorder, the individual may be legally defined as an SVP, but, if the criminal offenses were not the result of a mental disorder, the SVP statute does not apply. Dr. Williams carries out such evaluations and testifies at SVP trials.