Forensic Services

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The Department's Office of Forensic Services programs serve individuals with disabilities who are involved in the Commonwealth's legal system. Services include mental health evaluations and screenings, treatment of individuals with mental illness in jail, case management and restoration of competency to stand trial. In addition, DBHDS develops and implements programs and services for individuals at risk for involvement in the criminal justice system to attempt to create diversion alternatives (when appropriate) and/or to improve access to behavioral health services for those who enter the criminal justice system.


Please click to download the following list

List of Qualified Forensic Evaluators Maintained by the Commissioner of DBHDS

*Note: The above is an Excel spreadsheet


Individuals who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) by Virginia criminal courts require attention for clinical and legal needs as a result of their connection to both the mental health and criminal justice systems. The information below is intended as a resource for providers who are tasked with evaluating, treating, and managing individuals found not guilty by reason of insanity.

DBHDS Policies and Guidelines:

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has developed written guidelines regarding the management of individuals found not guilty by reason of insanity. This information should assist administrators, clinicians, court personnel, treatment team members in state operated mental health facilities, and staff of community services boards in evaluating, treating, and managing individuals found not guilty by reason of insanity in a manner that is consistent with legal mandates and professional standards.

Relevant Code Sections:

Click the following link to access Chapter 11 of the Code of Virginia, which specifically addresses the issue of insanity at the time of the offense. Below is a list of the relevant sections of that chapter and a brief description:

  • Virginia Code Sections 19.2-167 through 19.2-182 describe proceedings on the question of insanity at the time of the offense.
  • Virginia Code Sections 19.2-182.2 through 19.2-182.16 describe the legal process for Virginia's disposition of individuals found not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • Virginia Code Section 19.2-174.1 describes the information required prior to admission to a mental health facility.

Materials for Community Services Board NGRI Coordinators:

The Executive Director of each Community Services Board has designated a member of his/her staff to serve as NGRI Coordinator. The NGRI Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the compliance of the CSB and the acquittee with court orders for conditional release, coordinating the provision of reports to the court in a timely fashion, and is the point person for coordinating all NGRI cases within their catchment area. Click HERE for a list of NGRI Coordinators by CSB and their contact information.

Virginia NGRI Acquittal Data:

  • Following a finding of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, NGRI acquittees are court-ordered into the custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. During the initial period, known as the “temporary custody” period, evaluators make recommendations to the court whether the individual should be released without conditions, released with conditions, or remain hospitalized. Only 31.7% of NGRI acquittees are released at the point of temporary custody.
  • The remaining 68.3% of NGRI acquittees remain hospitalized for an average of 5 years before their release to the community.
  • Based on data from the past six years (2010-2015), there is an average of 73 new NGRI acquittals every year in Virginia.


If you have any questions or would like more information on NGRI issues, please contact Sarah Shrum with the Office of Forensic Services.


If a court finds a defendant incompetent to stand trial pursuant to Virginia Code section § 19.2-169.1, the court will order that the defendant receive treatment to restore their competency. The court will order the defendant to receive restoration services on an outpatient basis unless the court specifically finds that the defendant requires inpatient hospital treatment. "Outpatient" and "community-based" are terms used interchangeably to describe restoration services that take place in a setting other than an inpatient hospital, including both the jail and larger community setting. The information provided below is intended as a resource for adult community-based restoration service providers.

COMMUNITY-BASED ADULT COMPETENCY RESTORATION MANUAL:

A manual on restoration services that Community Services Boards (CSBs) are court-ordered to provide pursuant to Virginia Code section § 19.2-169.2, when a defendant is found incompetent to stand trial.

COMMUNITY-BASED ADULT COMPETENCY RESTORATION TRAINING:

In 2004, the Department developed several short training presentations to assist the Community Services Boards with the provision of restoration services upon receipt of an outpatient restoration order from the court. Over time it became evident that a concentrated training event was needed along with the provision of more restoration training tools. With that in mind, in 2014 the Office of Forensic Services, through a contract with the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy (ILPPP), developed a training curriculum and to improve training tools for the CSBs to use during their restoration efforts. Please click HERE for more information about this training.

MATERIALS FOR COMMUNITY-BASED RESTORATION WORKERS:

MODEL COURT ORDERS FOR COMPETENCY EVALUATION & RESTORATION:

MODEL LETTERS FROM THE CSB TO THE COURT REGARDING RESTORATION SERVICES:

PAYMENT FOR ADULT COMMUNITY-BASED RESTORATION SERVICES THROUGH DBHDS:

Community Services Boards are eligible to receive payment from the Department for outpatient restoration services that they provide. The following should be used as guidelines for requesting payment through DBHDS for those services.


For more information about adult competency restoration services, please contact Sarah Shrum in the Office of Forensic Services.