The need for more empirical information on the effect of psychiatric evaluations and testimony in criminal cases has been recognized increasingly in recent years. Nevertheless, the total body of quantitative information in this area remains very small. What little information there is generally focuses on the characteristics and post-acquittal histories of those few defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity because records on such individuals are readily accessible. This study reports the results of a detailed investigation of the disposition of a sample of criminal cases referred for pretrial psychiatric evaluations. The data yield some preliminary findings concerning assessments of competency to stand trial, the use of psychiatric information in the sentencing process, and the adjudication of insanity pleas.

Richard J. Bonnie & Douglas A. Hastings, A Survey of Pretrial Psychiatric Evaluations in Richmond, Virginia, 1 Developments in Mental Health Law 9–12 (1981).