Our country faces a mental health crisis that gets worse every year. Millions of adults are unable to access treatment for their mental illness, which negatively impacts them if they face criminal or civil liability. When your freedom is at risk from actions you cannot fully control, a West Covina mental health attorney can help you defend yourself.
California has recognized the effect of this health epidemic, taking steps to increase services for mental health treatment and to prevent individuals from entering the justice system unnecessarily. These efforts aid those who are diagnosed with a disorder and protect the public. If you are facing charges related to mental illness, you need legal assistance to ensure your rights are respected.
Mental Health Issues Are Increasing Steadily
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports a higher rate of mental illness and other mental health-related problems in California than in the rest of the country. Anxiety and depressive orders affect 32% of adults in the state, and 30% of those were unable to receive therapy or counseling. Lack of treatment for these individuals results in more incidents of people interacting with law enforcement during a mental crisis episode.
Stress and fear from recent events have increased the incidence of anxiety and depression. The Covid pandemic, housing issues, and employment concerns can turn ordinary worries into a diagnosable mental condition. Living in a constant state of panic while trying to maintain a job, family, and home may trigger out-of-character behaviors in a person who can usually manage a mental disorder.
For low-income individuals, these concerns can worsen the stressors they have faced for many years. Regardless of a person’s socioeconomic situation, they can suffer a mental illness crisis that involves substance abuse or actions that result in an arrest. California has recognized the relationship between mental health and crime and has instituted a diversionary program to provide special services.
For a free legal consultation with a mental health lawyer serving West Covina, call (310) 896-2723
California’s Mental Health Diversionary Program
- 1001.36 of the California Penal Code provides for a program to assess the mental health of individuals charged with crimes before they go to trial. The goal is to identify those who may benefit from being diverted into a treatment program. For certain felonies and misdemeanors, having a diagnosis and receiving help can result in a lesser charge or dismissal, depending on the circumstances of the case.
To be eligible for the program, you must have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or PTSD from a qualified practitioner. You must also be charged with a felony or misdemeanor before you can enroll. Additional conditions apply and these are determined by a California judge:
- Your disorder is the primary cause of your actions, as confirmed by a mental health expert.
- You agree to accept treatment through the program.
- You comply with the program requirements and complete the program.
- After completion, you are no longer an unreasonable risk to society, as determined by a professional.
Not everyone can qualify for this diversion option. If you are considered a risk to others, or if you have certain disorders such as antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or pedophilia, you are ineligible. Programs can last up to two years, and failure to stick with the treatment program puts you at risk of facing a criminal charge again.
West Covina Mental Health Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
Common Mental Disorders
There are over two hundred recognized mental illnesses and disorders. Some frequently cause individuals to behave in ways that are harmful to themselves or others. Being in the grip of a mental crisis can bring you into contact with law enforcement officers who may not recognize that you are ill.
Cognitive function and decision-making are often negatively affected by disorders such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Neurocognitive disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Trauma disorders such as PTSD
Although these illnesses can be managed with medication and therapy, they often affect memory, perception, and social skills. At times, you may enter a state where you are unable to tell reality from hallucinations. In these situations, it can be argued that you were not fully responsible for your actions that contributed to your arrest.
Mental Incompetence or Mental Insanity as a Defense
Claiming mental incompetence or mental insanity to defend yourself from conviction is much more complicated than is often portrayed on television. Deciding to pursue a strategy involving incompetency or insanity requires the guidance of a mental health attorney who understands how the law and your illness intersect.
Mental incompetence applies to the state of the defendant’s mind at the time of the trial. It is meant to demonstrate that the person does not understand the legal proceedings or that they have been charged with a crime. They are unable to aid in their defense and are usually held involuntarily in a treatment facility until they attend the trial.
Mental insanity addresses the defendant’s mental state at the time of the crime. Your mental health attorney in West Covina must show you were unaware of what you were doing when you committed the act but understand it was criminal. Defendants and their attorneys are responsible for proving incompetence or insanity through assessment and testimony from approved medical experts.
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Contact a Mental Health Lawyer in West Covina Today
California created its mental health diversionary program to offer treatment for those charged with crimes who have mental illness instead of sending them to prison. Through inpatient and outpatient services, you could receive the help you need instead of being penalized for your actions.
A West Covina mental health lawyer from Simmrin Law Group can help you understand your options. Our attorneys are ready to defend you against criminal charges associated with a mental illness. We will protect your rights and work to achieve the best outcome for you and your future.