One of the most difficult decisions for a defense attorney to make at the early stages of a case is whether or not the defendant should submit to a risk assessment. A risk assessment can help the defendant get out on bail and obtain a better plea agreement. However, some experts will not perform a risk assessment on a defendant that denies the allegations against him. A psychological evaluation is not to determine if something occurred. It is simply to determine if the defendant is at risk of committing a future offense and therefore how he will do on bail, what treatment is recommended and if he is repetitive and compulsive.
Clearly, if the defendant admits to the accusations, this analysis is much easier. However, some defendants are very reluctant to admit guilt, especially in the beginning of the case. Of course, some clients are actually innocent! Thus, the long term strategy needs to be discussed with the client and/or the client’s family to determine where this case is going. Are we looking to get a good plea or are we looking to go to trial. An early evaluation can lead to early treatment and thus, a better plea bargain down the road. If the defendant maintains his innocence, he has be be prepared both emotionally and financially to possibly go to trial. Once charged, it is rare (but not impossible) for these cases not to end in either a plea or a trial.