The Ninth Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Competency Enhancement Program (CEP) is a community-based competency restoration program serving clients of the Office of the Public Defender in Orange and Osceola Counties. The program serves Circuit 9 clients who are 18 years or older and who appear to be Incompetent to Proceed due to symptoms of Mental Illness.

The program facilitates case management services, competency training, forensic psychological evaluations, and transportation for clients in need. Case managers are responsible for assessment, planning, coordinating, referring, monitoring and linking the client and his or her family to social services. The Ninth Circuit Public Defender’s Competency Enhancement Program utilizes employees of the Public Defender’s Office with requisite education and experience in working with forensic populations within the criminal justice system. These trainers have completed an approved competency training curriculum, with added emphasis on the client’s participation on cases, charges, and defenses.

The Ninth Circuit Public Defender’s Competency Enhancement Program utilizes Florida-licensed psychologists and psychiatrists who have completed the Florida Forensics Evaluator Training administered by the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of Florida (USF) in order to complete assessments, as needed.

The time needed to restore competency depends on each client’s individual needs. If a person cannot be restored, the judge may order him or her to remain on a conditional release for the period outlined in current Florida statutes.

Individuals will be discharged from the program when they gain competency or when the Court makes a disposition that competency will not be restored and charges are either dismissed or the client is placed on conditional release.