Mental health is essential, and California is notorious for the lack of resources and blatant mishandling of mental health issues by police officers. Law enforcement is notorious for incarcerating Thousand Oaks residents who have mental illnesses. People with mental illness deserve the same respect as those who do not.
A mental health lawyer in Thousand Oaks can help your case.
An Increase in Defendants Who Are Incompetent to Stand Trial
Reports by the Rand Corporation show that between 2010 and 2015, defendants who were incompetent to stand trial rose by 350% compared to previous years. If you have a diagnosed mental illness and are facing criminal charges, you have rights and must speak with a Thousand Oaks mental health lawyer.
For a free legal consultation with a mental health lawyer serving Thousand Oaks, call (310) 896-2723
California Mental Health Diversion Program
While new laws and programs are popping up, it does not erase the suffering those incarcerated must deal with. Mental illness has become a public health crisis which has moved many states to focus on mental health programs for the community. California has a Mental Health Diversion Program, which aims to give mental health treatment to eligible criminal defendants instead of incarceration.
Benefits of Mental Health Diversion
Defendants in these programs win because they get the services they need and keep a clean criminal record. For defendants, the key benefit of the mental health diversion program is that their charges will be dropped upon completion. Most importantly, it gives those without access to mental health services the opportunity to get treatment for their symptoms.
Incarceration is not the answer for mentally ill defendants who do not have access to services. They will suffer cruel conditions that worsen their illness and face a permanent criminal record, making it challenging when they get out of jail. Convicted felons cannot receive government assistance, vote, obtain professional licenses or find employment.
Eligibility for Mental Health Diversion
As will every program, there are eligibility requirements to begin and get the assistance you require for your illness and not suffer criminal penalties for them. The first element is to have a mental illness diagnosis from the national standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The current mental illnesses that qualify for the program are:
- Bipolar disorder
The second element provides evidence of how mental illness plays a role in the crime. The court will provide a psych evaluation if you do not have a current diagnosis. Defendants will also need to waive their rights to a speedy trial because this process will far extend past what is constitutionally allowed.
You cannot enter a program without consent, and you will need your mental health attorney in Thousand Oaks to provide a valid argument to the court for why you need and qualify for these services. There are ineligibility guidelines as well for specific conditions and based on a criminal record; examples include:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Involuntary manslaughter defendants
- Antisocial personality disorder
A judge will order the defendant to participate in the program for a specific time frame, usually between six months and two years. If you do not complete the time or follow the program outlines, you will face reincarceration and a recharge of the offense. Some costs come with these programs, but there are financial assistance programs to aid with the expenses.
Enrollment requires mandatory psychotherapy: housing, medication management, and inpatient or outpatient services. Someone overseeing your success in the program will provide regular reports about your status to your Thousand Oaks mental health attorney and the courts.
Other Diversion Programs
There are alternative options for defendants who do not qualify for the California mental Health Diversion Program that can help you during a criminal case. If you do not have any offense within the last five years and are facing a non-violent crime, you can qualify for a drug diversion program. Military service is significant in entering an alternative program and avoiding incarceration.
Judges are also more prone to allow defendants facing misdemeanor offenses to enter a drug diversion program. These charges are also less challenging to dismiss. If you are ineligible for a mental health diversion program, you have other options, and you must discuss those with a Thousand Oaks mental health lawyer.
Thousand Oaks Mental Health Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
Mental Health Disorders and Criminal Defense
As a defendant, you must show that you have a mental illness and would benefit from a mental health diversion program. The key is getting a medical diagnosis and providing evidence of your illness and crime. Simmrin Law Group will work to gather evidence for your case and prove to the court you benefit from a mental health program instead of incarceration.
The diversion programs are not the only route available for you, as you can also use an insanity plea or not guilty because of insanity. These pleas are entered into the court when the defendant was insane at the time of the offense or did not understand the crime and that it is morally wrong. The outcome of a successful defense is the defendant will spend time in a mental hospital instead of a state prison and will not have a criminal record.
One differential to remember is competency to stand trial is different than not guilty by insanity. Competency refers to the person’s ability to attend a trial date due to their mental state; if it is temporary, the trial will be postponed until the person can stand trial. Not guilty by insanity means a person’s mental health was compromised at the time of the crime, but they can stand trial and have an understanding of what occurred.
Work with a Thousand Oaks Mental Health Lawyer
There is a better understanding of mental illness and the importance of mental health. The criminal justice system is plagued with wrongful incarceration and a lack of mental health resources. When someone committed a crime, the court did not always consider mental health disorders to be the cause, and when they did, it was on the defendant to speak for their lack of treatment.
Now criminal defendants have options when facing incarceration, and a Simmrin Law Group Thousand Oaks mental health lawyer is here to help.