Forensic Services

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About Forensic Services

The Office of Civil and Forensic Mental Health's Forensic Services division provides evaluation, treatment and other services to the forensic population statewide. Forensic clients are individuals who are diagnosed with mental health disorders, involved in the criminal justice system, and are either currently incarcerated or living in the community. In order to best serve this population, the Forensic Services team works across all settings, including the Mental Health Hospitals, jails and the community.

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Colorado's behavioral health system is in the process of transformation. Click to learn more.

Colorado's behavioral health system is in the process of transformation. The Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) is a new cabinet-level agency, housed within the Department of Human Services, designed to be the single entity responsible for driving coordination and collaboration across state agencies to address behavioral health needs. Many behavioral health programs such as crisis services, substance use treatment, and care coordination are now administered by the BHA.

Colorado's two Mental Health Hospitals and the Forensic Services division will remain within the Office of Civil and Forensic Mental Health.

Learn more about the BHA  Find behavioral health help

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Programs

Forensic Services' five programs are responsible for coordinating, managing and responding to court orders for forensic evaluation and related forensic services statewide. Expand the sections below for details.

Court Services

Court Services responds to court-ordered evaluations and provides opinions to the court, as mandated by state statute, regarding:

  • Competency to proceed,
  • Restoration to competency,
  • Sanity, and
  • Mental condition.

Download

The following charts outline each step of the Competency and Restoration processes:

Forensic Community Based Services (FCBS)

Forensic Community Based Services (FCBS) is responsible for the case management of persons found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) and who are transitioning from an inpatient hospital setting into a community-based outpatient setting. NGRI acquittees on Community Placement and Conditional Release have the opportunity for continued independence, recovery and community reintegration.

Resources

Contact information

William (Bill) Martinez
Director, Forensic Community Based Services
Phone: 719-546-4498
Email: bill.martinez@state.co.us

Jail-Based Evaluation and Restoration

The Jail-Based Evaluation and Restoration Program serves as the State's only program to provide jail-based competency restoration services for individuals who have been court ordered to receive an initial evaluation of competency to proceed or found incompetent to proceed and ordered to undergo competency restoration treatment.

The 12 beds at the Denver Restoration Treatment Unit (DRTU) at the Denver County Jail (DCJ) became operational on May 10, 2021. DRTU accepts admissions from DCJ and the Denver Downtown Detention Center. DRTU is housed within a therapeutic unit at the DCJ and provides daily programming focused on competency restoration, general mental health needs and enhancing life skills.

Resources

Contact information

Karen Grabowski
Director, Jail-Based Evaluation and Restoration Program
Phone: 303.866.7369
Email: karen.grabowski@state.co.us

Forensic Support Team

The Forensic Support Team (FST) serves as a centralized structure within OCFMH in order to assist forensic clients when competency restoration services have been ordered by the court. The team includes a Program Director, two Program Coordinators, and 15 Forensic Navigators to provide case management services to Pretrial Detainees. Forensic Navigators are placed throughout the state.

Resources

For court executives

 

Contact information

Amanda Myers
Director, Forensic Support Team
Phone: 303.866.7181
Email: amanda.myers@state.co.us

Outpatient Restoration Services

The Outpatient Restoration Program serves adults and juveniles in the criminal justice or juvenile justice system, who are found incompetent to proceed (ITP), providing education and case management services in or near their community. This program delivers competency restoration services in the least restrictive setting, increasing a person's ability to engage with local and social support while preventing personal losses such as employment, housing, income and freedom. Education services are at no cost to the individual and are provided by contracted educators throughout the State of Colorado.

Resources

Contact information

Kathryn Davis
Director, Outpatient Restoration Services
Phone: 303.866.7069
Email: kathryn.davis@state.co.us

General email: cdhs_outptrestoration@state.co.us

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Resources

Expand the sections below to view resources for stakeholders, partners, patients and others.

Stakeholder resources
Statewide Competency Restoration Best Business Practices Workgroup guidelines

These guidelines were developed by the Statewide Competency Restoration Best Business Practices Workgroup. This workgroup consists of members from the Office of Civil and Forensic Mental Health Forensic Services and Mental Health Hospital at Pueblo teams; the Colorado Judicial Department - Bridges Court Liaison Program, District and County Court Judicial Officers, Clerks, Clerks Advisory, and Trainers; the State Public Defender's Office, County Public Defenders, the District Attorney's Council, Assistant District Attorneys, and County Sheriff's Offices.

This Workgroup's mission was to identify points of information exchanges between courts, Forensic Services, and county jails within the competency restoration process. After identifying points of information exchanges, they worked to understand the role of each agency in these information exchanges and created guidelines on how best to exchange information, while ensuring that each agency had the information necessary for every stage of the competency restoration process. In coming years, this workgroup will ensure guidelines stay relevant, up-to-date, and easily accessible.

Seeking Civil Commitments Competency Restoration Clients with Active Warrants
Pursuing an M1 Outpatient Treatment Conversions
M3 and Direct Admission Processes In-Person and Virtual Writ Appearances
Inpatient Restoration Conversions Ordering Competency Case Reports in Progress
Discharge Plans Ordering Competency
Guidelines for Court Filings and Correspondence Court Correspondence and Reporting Contacts Attachment

Guideline for Courts Considering Ordering Competency Restoration Services for Out of State Defendants

Guideline for Court Ordering Competency to Proceed Evaluation or Reassessments for Defendants Located Out of State

Guideline for Second Evaluations  
Actions related to Competency to Proceed (Senate Bill 19-223)

In May 2019, the Colorado General Assembly passed a number of bills to improve behavioral health services and resources across the state. This included Senate Bill 19-223, Actions Related to Competency Proceed, which directed the Colorado Department of Human Services to implement some new programs and practices. It includes changes to competency-related statutes to align with the Consent Decree and utilizes the court and state systems to contribute to the best outcomes for individuals in the competency process. All of these new teams, practices, and services aim to maximize Forensic Services' efforts in providing timely competency evaluations and restoration treatment services to pretrial detainees.

Admissions based on need:

This system will create new language that will appear in the initial competency evaluations that will work to screen each Pretrial Detainee to help make recommendations to the committing court as to the most clinically appropriate level of care to restore the individual to competency. This will help us ensure that patients are connected to the most appropriate care based on their individual needs. This includes new language and assessment criteria to assign patients a Tier 1 or Tier 2 status. The recently passed legislation requires that the Department implement a set of policies related to this requirement to achieve the following outcomes:

By July 2019, a tiered triage system that admits the most acute patients within 7 days after the Department receives the order and collateral materials. By July 2020, in-custody evaluations must be completed no later than 21 days after the Department receives the order and collateral materials. By July 2020, out-of-custody evaluations be completed within 42 days after the Department receives the order and collateral materials. By July 2020, offers for admission for inpatient evaluations must occur within 14 days after the Department receives the order and collateral materials. After the fourth 90-day court review of whether the defendant has been restored to competency, reviews occur every 63 days, and if the court determines that there is not a substantial probability that the defendant will be restored to competency in the foreseeable future, the case will be dismissed.

Launch date: 6/1/2019

Forensic Support Team:

This new team will serve as a centralized structure for stakeholders to immediately access detailed information about programs, clients, and settings. The Forensic Services Support Team consists of a Supervising Coordinator and 15 Forensic Navigators strategically placed throughout the state. The Forensic Navigators will interface with clients ordered to competency and restoration services, interface with courts, jails, mental health providers, and other agencies to assist with case coordination, and act as a central point of contact overseeing an individual's continuum of care from point of entry to point of exit.

Launch date: 8/15/2019

Fellowship program

The Forensic Services Postdoctoral Fellowship in Forensic Psychology at CMHHIP is a one-year program providing intensive training in forensic psychological assessment. It is one of only 20 programs recognized by the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP) as meeting their criteria for waiver of the experience requirement to apply for board certification in forensic psychology.

Download the Forensic Services Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Announcement.

Careers with Forensic Services

Job vacancies within Forensic Services are announced on the State of Colorado Job Opportunities website. Applications are accepted only during the time period listed on the announcement. Review the job announcements and identify those that you may be qualified for and interested in. To apply for a specific job, follow the instructions in the announcement section titled "How to Apply." When applying for a state job, carefully follow the instructions. Submitting an application to the wrong location or not providing all the required materials may result in not being considered for the job.

Information requests
  • Parties wishing to request access to or copies of their protected health information can call Medical Records at 719.546.4185 or email cdhs_releaseofinformation@state.co.us.
  • Parties wishing to request access to copies of their protected health information from RISE can call 303.866.7369.
  • Parties wishing to request access to copies of their protected health information from Outpatient Restoration can call 303.866.7098.

The request must state the specific records being sought. Any requests made with subpoena, or court order pursuant to § 16-8.5-104(4) must include a copy of the subpoena or court order.

Definitions

The following definitions are common terminology used within Forensic Services.

Definitions related to Sanity can be found in C.R.S. 16-8-101.5, C.R.S. 16-8-102.

  • Impaired mental condition - condition of mind caused by mental disease or defect that prevents the formation of a culpable mental state.
  • Insanity - a disease or defective mind that is incapable of distinguishing right from wrong at the time of a commission of an act. Disease or defective is not manifested by repeated antisocial behavior and is not attributable to voluntary ingestion of alcohol or other substances.
  • Mental disease/defect - severely abnormal mental condition that grossly impairs a person's perception and understanding of reality which is not attributable to voluntary ingestion of alcohol or other Substances.
  • Sanity evaluation - a court-ordered evaluation of a defendant who has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity directed at determining the defendant's sanity or insanity at the time the act was committed.
  • Forensic psychologist - a licensed psychologist who is board certified in forensic psychology by the American board of professional psychology or who has completed a fellowship in forensic psychology.
  • Community placement - patients committed to Colorado Department of Human Services and Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo that are treated on an outpatient basis.
  • Conditional release - a status granted to patients by the court that discharges patients from their commitment to CDHS on a conditional basis and is still subject to hospitalization.
  • Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) - a person who is so diseased or defective of mind at the time of the commission of the act as to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to that act is not accountable.
  • Release examination - a court-ordered examination of a defendant to determine eligibility for release.
  • Release hearing - hearing determining whether a defendant previously committed to the Department of Human Services as a result of a not guilty by reason of insanity plea has become eligible for release.

Definitions related to Competency can be found in C.R.S. 16-8.5-101.

  • Competent to proceed - means that a defendant does not have a mental disability or developmental disability that prevents the defendant from having sufficient present ability to consult with the defendant's lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding in order to assist in the defense, or prevents the defendant from having a rational and factual understanding of the criminal proceedings.
  • Incompetent to proceed - as a result of a mental disability or developmental disability, the defendant does not have sufficient present ability to consult with the defendant's lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding, or, as a result of a mental disability or development disability, the defendant does not have a rational and factual understanding of the criminal proceedings.
  • Competency evaluation - court-ordered examinations of a defendant directed at determining a defendant's competency to proceed at a particular stage of the criminal proceeding that is performed by a competency evaluator and includes evaluations concerning restoration to competency. Can be completed before, during, or after a trial.
  • Competency evaluator - a licensed physician who is a psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist who is trained in forensic competency assessments Competency Hearing - a hearing to determine whether a defendant is competent to proceed.
  • Developmental disability - a disability that has manifested before the person reaches twenty-two years of age, which constitutes a substantial disability to the affected individual, and is attributable to mental retardation or other neurological conditions that impair general intellectual functioning or adaptive Behavior.
  • Mental disability - a substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, or cognitive ability that results in a marked functional disability and significantly interferes with adaptive behavior. Mental disability does not include intoxication from alcohol or other substances, or any substance abuse impairment resulting from recent use or withdrawal, or any condition manifested only by antisocial behavior. However, substance abuse that results in long-term, substantial disorder of thought, mood, or cognitive ability may constitute a mental disability.
  • Restoration hearing - a hearing to determine whether a defendant who has previously been determined to be incompetent to proceed has become competent to proceed.​​​​​​
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Submit a complaint

Submit a complaint through the Forensic Services Grievance Form:

Access the Forensic Services Grievance Resolution Policy.

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HIPAA compliance

All Forensic Services comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provisions for the privacy and security of client Protected Health Information. Access the Behavioral Health Administration's Behavioral Health Care Compliance Toolbox for related rules, regulations and resources.