In California, mental health and criminal offenders have had their need for specialized treatment recognized for more than two decades. Since 1999, mental health courts have existed to provide defendants with the legal and mental health care necessities they need. Many defendants with mental health problems, like insanity, are unable to contend with the stressful nature of court hearings, so mental health courts allow them to have their actions tried under different circumstances.
If you believe that you were experiencing a mental crisis at the time you engaged in alleged criminal behaviors, you may be eligible to be tried in a mental health court. To learn more about how you can have your criminal case taken through the mental health courts, you should get in touch with a Downey mental health lawyer. They will teach you how you can successfully plead not guilty by insanity and show that your sanity has been restored since the criminal behavior occurred.
California PC §1001.36
In California, some criminal cases can be dismissed due to relevant mental health issues suffered by the defendant. This means that a person suffering from mental health issues can have their case dismissed under the right conditions. The process that allows for this is called Mental Health Diversion.
Mental Health Diversion is described in California Penal code 1001.36. According to California PC 1001.36, courts can divert some crimes if all of the following are true:
- The defendant has a noteworthy mental disorder;
- The mental disorder was a primary factor in them committing the offense;
- Doctors state that treatment will help the defendant recover from their condition;
- The defendant is in agreement with the Mental Health Diversion;
- There is no danger associated with treating the defendant in the community;
- Charges do not include certain offenses, like murder or sexual action with a minor.
Under this statute, pretrial diversion is defined as the postponement of prosecution, temporarily or permanently, to allow the defendant to receive appropriate mental health treatment. The criminal case can be reinstated under a range of conditions, such as the commission of additional misdemeanors or felonies within the diversion period. The criminal proceedings may also be reinstated if the offender does not perform well throughout the Mental Health Diversion process.
Exceptions to California PC 1001.36
The most notable exception to California PC 1001.36 applies to DUI offenders. According to Vehicle Code §23640, courts are prohibited from offering any pretrial diversion for anyone charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI offense. Therefore, a DUI offender is not allowed to have their case suspended, stayed, or dismissed through the Mental Health Diversion process.
If you have a charge pending that is not a DUI, contact a Downey mental health lawyer to represent you.
For a free legal consultation with a mental health lawyer serving Downey, call (310) 896-2723
There Are Benefits to Pretrial Diversion
The advantage of pretrial diversions is that a mental health diversion will allow you to postpone action on your case so that you can engage in a mental health treatment program. If you complete the program, your charges can be dismissed.
Any records of the crime will also be sealed by the courts. This allows you to keep the commission of the crime off of your record.
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Types of Mental Health Conditions Excluded
You are not able to ask for a Mental Health Diversion if the mental health disorder you suffer from includes antisocial personality disorders, pedophilia, and borderline personality disorder. However, a majority of other conditions do qualify. Some examples of conditions that qualify you to leverage PC 1001.36 include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Proving Your Mental Health Disorder
To qualify for a Mental Health Diversion, you must prove that you suffer from a severe mental disorder that caused you to engage in criminal behaviors. Proving this typically requires your legal team to present reasonable evidence that was provided by a reliable mental health expert. A Downey mental health lawyer can help you find a mental health expert who can support your claim.
There is a variety of different types of evidence that can potentially be used, including:
- Defendant examinations
- Medical records
- Police reports
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Costs for Mental Health Diversion
You are not explicitly required to pay for your own mental health treatment when you get a Mental Health Diversion order. The money can come from private funds, but there are also public funds you can tap into if you are unable to afford private care.
A court that offers a Mental Health Diversion could refer you to a local mental health agency or collaborative court. Though, these units must explicitly accept responsibility for providing treatment for the defendant. Furthermore, the treatment program ordered by the court must be available at the chosen facility.
Measuring Treatment Progress
Diversion treatment programs offer routine progress reports to the court system that processed the defendant they are treating. The prosecution and defense teams also receive these same reports. Depending on the content of these reports, action may be taken via a court hearing.
Some actions that can be taken based on the court hearing outcome include:
- Modification of the treatment program
- Reinstatement of criminal proceedings
- Undertaking conservatorship proceedings
A hearing will occur if the defendant is caught committing more crimes or engaging in other criminal conduct. Hearings may also be requested by a mental health expert who tells the court that the defendant is not performing adequately in the treatment program. To learn how you can avoid a hearing in your Mental Health Diversion, speak to a Downey mental health lawyer.
Get the Help You Need
Mental health is a serious issue, so serious that mental health courts had to be established to support defendants who suffer from mental disorders. If you feel your mental health condition contributed significantly to the commission of a crime you have been charged with, speak to a Downey mental health lawyer today to see if you are eligible for a Mental Health Diversion.
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