Individuals with mental illnesses are often mistreated by the justice system, whether because of discrimination, ignorance, or even misguided good intentions. If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense and need legal representation, seek specialized legal counsel from a mental health lawyer in Buena Park to ensure your rights and best interests are protected.
You Need a Buena Park Mental Health Lawyer Who Understands Mental Illness Laws
Navigating criminal cases involving mental illness requires specific knowledge and skill. With their expert knowledge of the law and an understanding of the struggles those with mental illness face, mental health lawyers can better protect clients experiencing such challenges.
Successful mental health lawyers know their clients benefit from treatment rather than punishment and work to get their clients compassionate and effective psychiatric help rather than prison time.
For a free legal consultation with a mental health lawyer serving Buena Park, call (310) 896-2723
How a Buena Park Mental Health Attorney Can Defend You
If you or a loved one has a mental illness and has been charged with a criminal act, your lawyer will know how to build a mental health defense on your behalf.
First, your lawyer will represent you at a sanity hearing. At this hearing, the court will determine whether you are competent to stand trial and/or whether you were legally sane at the time of the alleged criminal act.
According to California law, you will be found incompetent to stand trial if your evaluation shows you do not understand the charges brought against you, and you are unable to help with your own defense. Your mental health attorney in Buena Park will arrange for a psychiatric evaluation to determine your competency.
If you are found incompetent, your trial will be postponed, and you will be transported to a California psychiatric facility where you will live and receive treatment until you recover. If, after three years, you have not recovered, your Buena Park mental health lawyer will represent you at a hearing to determine your long-term care options.
Your lawyer can also mount a mental health defense if you were not legally sane at the time you committed the crime for which you are facing charges. Your legal sanity at the time of the crime is not related to your competency to stand trial.
For example, you may show understanding of the charges and assist in your defense, but if you committed the crime during a psychotic episode, as determined through a psychiatric evaluation, a mental health defense may apply.
Before a lawyer can build an insanity defense, there must be evidence of insanity. Not all criminal defense lawyers are familiar with the behavioral characteristics or signs of insanity, but a Buena Park mental health lawyer is.
For example, a person who is legally insane is generally not thwarted from criminal behavior by the presence of witnesses, will not attempt to conceal evidence, and will not try to avoid arrest.
Requirements for an Insanity Defense
To successfully argue an insanity defense, your Buena Park mental health lawyer must prove you were not aware of what you were doing while committing the criminal act, or that you were aware of what you were doing but not aware the act was wrong.
All citizens are presumed innocent until proven guilty, putting the burden of proof on prosecutors to prove a defendant is guilty. However, all citizens are presumed sane until proven insane, which puts that burden of proof on the defense. It is up to your mental health lawyer to seek the help of psychiatrists, psychologists, criminal pathologists, or other expert witnesses to testify and affirm the legitimacy of your mental health episode or condition.
If you are proven not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) you will not be consigned to jail or prison, but will instead go to a state mental facility until you recover, and there will be no criminal conviction for the alleged offense on your record.
Buena Park Mental Health Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
Mental Health Diversion Program
California Penal Code 1001.36 provides a diversion program applicable to some residents who have been charged with a crime and experience mental illness.
Under this law, alleged perpetrators may have their charges dismissed after successfully completing a treatment program and will have their criminal records sealed so they can continue on with their lives without the related crime on their record.
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Qualifying for the Mental Health Diversion Option
Lawyers can only pursue the mental health diversion option if they understand how it works. Your Buena Park mental health lawyer will have expert knowledge of the mental health diversion code and will know if you qualify for this option. Qualifying factors include the following:
- You have a mental health disorder recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but the disorder is not a borderline personality disorder, anti-social personality disorder, or pedophilia.
- Your mental illness was largely the reason for your alleged commission of the crime.
- A mental health professional determines you would likely have a positive response to treatment.
- You consent and agree to maintain the requirements of the mental health diversion program, and waive your right to a speedy trial.
- The court determines you do not present a risk to society.
Your Buena Park mental health lawyer will gather the expert witnesses, documentation, and other court-required information to secure your qualifications.
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Why You Need a Buena Park Mental Health Lawyer
People with mental illness are especially vulnerable when charged with criminal offenses. Too often, their needs are not considered, and they are sent to prison where they experience harm and their symptoms worsen.
If you have mental health challenges and have been charged with a criminal offense, protect yourself from such a harmful outcome by trusting your case to a Buena Park mental health lawyer. Not all criminal defense lawyers, even the best ones, are equipped to handle cases involving mental illness. Make sure yours is.
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A Buena Park mental health lawyer understands the laws and options that can affect the outcome of your case, has strong connections with experts in mental health, and knows treatment, not incarceration, is what you need and deserve.