THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TREATMENT FOR MENTAL ILLNESS

Author: 

Jennifer Colangelo

In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the government to forcibly medicate mentally ill defendants in order to make them competent to stand trial, and created a four- factor test to determine when the state interest in bringing a defendant to trial outweighs the defendant's right to privacy in his own body. Previous cases had already established the government's right to forcibly treat mentally ill individuals – overriding an individual's right to refuse treatment – based on the state's interest in the health, welfare and safety of its citizens. The most recent case, Sell v. United States, gave much more specific guidance about how to balance an individual's rights with a state's interest. View More