Court-ordered assessments are a type of evaluation in which a judge orders an individual to undergo an assessment for a possible issue they could be having. These assessments are typically requested by the defense or prosecution in criminal cases, but they can also be ordered in civil cases. Similarly, a drug and alcohol assessment may be ordered in a variety of legal cases.

To a lot of people, the idea of getting a court-ordered assessment may seem daunting. However, it is important to remember that this is an assessment ordered by a judge and must be taken seriously. This type of assessment can have a major impact on your life, so it is important to be prepared and to understand the process.


Mental Health Assessment

The purpose of a mental health assessment is to determine if a person has a behavior issue or mental health struggle that could be improved through treatment. 

The Texas legislature created the mental health assessment in 2009 to address concerns about whether or not the criminal justice system appropriately treats people with mental illnesses. The idea behind this law was that some people with mental illnesses might commit crimes because they do not know right from wrong or understand what they have done. So they should not be incarcerated in jail or prison but instead should be sent to a psychiatric facility where they can receive proper treatment for their condition.

It is important to note that a court-ordered assessment is different from a voluntary mental health assessment. When you undergo a voluntary assessment, you can choose which mental health professional you see, and you are not required to provide any information that you do not want to share. In contrast, when you are court-ordered to undergo an assessment, you may be required to see a specific counselor or therapist and provide all of the requested information.

The mental health assessment process differs from state to state. In Texas, residents can get an assessment in one of two ways. The first is through a mental health professional, and the second is through the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

In addition, the mental health assessment can be used to determine if a defendant is competent to stand trial. If a defendant is found incompetent to stand trial, they will not be tried for the crime they are accused of and will be sent to a psychiatric facility for treatment.

The mental health assessment is conducted by a team of mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, and licensed counselors. This team of professionals will interview the defendant and review their medical records to determine if they meet the criteria for mental illness.

Drug and Alcohol Assessment

A drug and alcohol assessment is a court-ordered assessment conducted to determine if a person has a drug or alcohol abuse problem. This assessment is typically requested when a person is facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI).

The drug and alcohol assessment is typically done by a licensed counselor, social worker, or substance abuse specialist. They will interview the defendant to determine if they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. If the team finds that the defendant does have a problem with drugs or alcohol, they will recommend that the court order the defendant to participate in treatment. Treatment may include counseling, education, and/or support groups.

Types of Court-Ordered Assessments in Texas

In Texas, the court may order you to complete a court-ordered assessment as part of a probation sentence or as part of your criminal defense. These assessments aim to determine if you are at risk for committing future offenses or if you have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

In Texas, there are four main types of court-ordered assessments:

Comprehensive Risk and Needs Assessment (CRNA)

This assessment evaluates risk factors such as substance abuse and mental health issues that can lead to future criminal behavior. It also determines what services would be most helpful in reducing that risk.

Violence Risk Assessment (VRA)

This assessment is conducted if the court believes you are at risk of committing a violent offense in the future. It evaluates factors such as criminal history, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health issues.

Risk Matrix Scale (RMS)

This is similar to the VRA but does not consider mental illness or substance abuse when determining an individual's risk level for violence. Instead, it focuses on criminal history and other risk factors.

Sex Offender Risk Assessment (SORA)

This assessment is conducted if you have been convicted of a sex offense. It determines your risk level for reoffending and what treatment or supervision would be most effective in reducing that risk.


How to Get a Court-Ordered Assessment in Austin, Texas

If you have been accused of a crime in Austin, Texas, you may be ordered to complete a court-ordered assessment as part of your criminal defense. These assessments can be conducted by the court or by your defense attorney.

To get a court-ordered assessment, you will need to file a motion with the court. This motion must explain why you believe an assessment is necessary. For example, you may argue that an assessment is necessary to determine if you are at risk for future criminal behavior or if you have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

After filing the motion, the court will set a hearing to decide whether to grant your request. If the court grants your request, they will order you to complete the assessment.

If you or a family member has been ordered to complete a court-ordered assessment, it is important to follow the court's instructions and cooperate with the assessors. If you do not, you may be found in contempt of court. At the end of the assessment, the assessors will provide a report to the court. This report will be used by the court to decide what, if any, additional penalties or conditions you may face.

If you are facing charges for a crime in Austin, Texas, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and the possible consequences of a conviction. They can also help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights.

Cost of Court-Ordered Evaluations in Austin, Texas

In Austin, the cost of a court-ordered evaluation depends on the type of assessment being conducted. 

It is important to note that you may be responsible for the cost of the evaluation if you are found to have committed the crime. If you are ordered to complete an assessment as part of your probation, you may also be responsible for the cost.


Final Reminders for Court-Ordered Evaluations in Austin, Texas

Getting a court-ordered assessment is an easy, uncomplicated process, and it’s often the best way to get your or your loved one the help they need. If you are unsure how to proceed, you should speak with a lawyer who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.

Apart from these, it's also important to remember that :

  • You should only use licensed mental health professionals for your assessment.

  • It’s important to be honest with your counselor or social worker. 

  • You may need to provide personal information during the assessment process. This information will be confidential and will not be used against you in court.

  • You have the right to appeal the results of your assessment.

Lastly, remember that the courts take these evaluations seriously. If you are ordered to complete an assessment, it is important that you do so.