Forensic Evaluator Training and the Importance of Appointing Approved Forensic Evaluators as Experts

Section 916.111, Florida Statutes, mandates that the Department of Children & Families provide training for psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals on how to conduct evaluations for criminal courts. The department has authorized the University of South Florida, Department of Mental Health Law & Policy to provide this training through the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute. The three day training program focuses on competence to proceed (competence to stand trial) evaluations and mental state at the time of the offense ("sanity") evaluations. Participants learn Florida laws and rules of criminal procedure relevant to forensic evaluation, general legal principles relevant to forensic evaluation, and assessment techniques and procedures used in competency to proceed and mental state at the time of the offense evaluations.

For information regarding this training you may contact the University of South Florida, Department of Mental Health Law & Policy at (813) 974-4672.

Section 916.115(1)(a), Florida Statutes, states "To the extent possible, the appointed experts shall have completed forensic evaluator training approved by the department, and each shall be a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, or physician."

Section 916.115 (2)(g), Florida Statutes, requires experts to "...explicitly address (in their reports and testimony) each of the factors and follow the procedures set out in this chapter and in the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure", in order to receive payment for their services.

Section 916.115(1)(b), Florida Statutes, directs the Department of Children & Families to provide the courts with an annual list of mental health professionals who have completed the approved training as experts. In compliance with this section, the Department mails an updated list to the chief judge in each circuit annually. However, authorized court personnel may contact the Adult Forensic Mental Health Program Office at (850) 921-5690 to request a current list of approved forensic evaluators at any time.