The former Nickelodeon star was due in a Los Angeles courtroom on September 24th for her California DUI case arising from an arrest in April of 2012. Bynes, however, missed her court date and her attorney is claiming that she was mentally unfit to stand trial.
In April of 2012, Bynes was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department after she clipped a police cruiser in West Hollywood. She pled “not guilty” to one count of misdemeanor DUI.
A Los Angeles County District Attorney spokesperson told Us Weekly, “Her attorney declared a 1368 PC [Penal Code] hearing to declare a doubt to mental competency. The parties will be due back in court on January 14, 2014 for a progress report.”
The case was transferred to the mental health court for evaluation to determine Bynes’s mental capacity.
What does it mean to be mentally incompetent to stand trial for a California DUI?
According to California Penal Code section 1367(a), “A defendant is mentally incompetent for purposes of this chapter if, as a result of mental disorder or developmental disability, the defendant is unable to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings or to assist counsel in the conduct of a defense in a rational manner.”
At a competency hearing, which is a civil proceeding, the defendant is presumed to be competent. The burden rests on the defendant to prove with “substantial evidence” that the defendant is not mentally competent.
If the defendant is deemed to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, the criminal proceedings against them are temporarily suspended until the defendant regains competency and the defendant will be required to undergo treatment with the goal of regaining competency. If and when the defendant regains competency, the criminal proceedings will resume.
If the defendant is found guilty, they will receive credit for the time they spent in a treatment facility against any term of imprisonment given at sentencing.
If the defendant never regains competency or does not regain competency within a reasonable time, the defendant will return to court for conservatorship proceedings. For misdemeanors, the reasonable time limit is one year.
Regardless of whether Bynes is deemed to mentally competent to stand trial for her California DUI, both she and her attorney have a lot of work ahead of them.