Fifteen years of defendants who refuse pre-trial forensic psychiatric assessment

Detention and probation / Judicial report

Fifteen years of defendants who refuse pre-trial forensic psychiatric assessment

Prevalence rates, information needs by public prosecutors and judges, and sentencing in court (full text only available in Dutch)


The present study is about defendants who refuse to participate in pre-trial forensic psychiatric assessments that are conducted on behalf of their criminal court case, in short, an assessment report. The goal is to contribute to a solution for the so-called ‘problematic influence of assessment refusal’. This influence refers to the problem that it is more difficult to write a psychiatric assessment report when the defendant refuses to participate, which in turn makes it more difficult for the judge to decide on the most suitable trajectory for the defendant: either punishment in prison or treatment in a forensic psychiatric hospital.

Several aspects of the possible problem-atic influence of assessment refusal have remained unknown up till now and are the focus of the present study:

  1. To gain insight into the prevalence rate of assessment refusal in the past fifteen years.
  2. To analyze the influence assessment refusal has on the capability of the mental health professionals to answer the court’s questions.
  3. To determine which information is necessary for public prosecutors and judges when defendants refuse to participate in the assessment to still be able to give a suitable sentencing advice and to make a suitable decision on this defendant.
  4. To determine which sentence is most often imposed on a defendant who refuses pre-trial forensic psychiatric assessment.
  5. To examine the arguments judges use to motivate their decisions.

Publication data

Nagtegaal, M., Jansen, D.L. (ass.), Eltink, S.B.E. (ass.), Vries, J.J. de (ass.)
Place of publication:
The Hague
Year of publication:
Cahiers 2018-15

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