Explanation of Mental Health Diversion Provided you live in California and have a mental health issue and have been charged with a crime, a state legislation may allow you to have the charges dropped if you finish treatment. For example, if you are charged with misdemeanor drug possession and receive treatment for addiction at a drug rehabilitation center or community program, then the case will be dismissed upon completion of the program. You should know that this is only available in certain states and depends on how the law is written up.
Mental health issues can also affect your ability to make good decisions about your defense. If you feel like you cannot defend yourself properly because of mental illness, there are attorneys who specialize in these cases. Your best option is to ask for help from an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible so he can explain your options and protect your rights.
The charges against a person who is examined in a mental health facility and judged to be mentally ill or mentally unstable will be removed after 6 months under the new law. This implies there is no criminal record and no conviction. There may still be consequences for civil rights, but they cannot be imposed until six months after the judgment is made.
People who are not convicted of a crime can never be sentenced to jail time. However, people who are found not guilty by reason of insanity or deficient mental condition can be sent to facilities for treatment. If they fail to comply with conditions of their release, they can be re-incarcerated.
In addition to the federal government, most states have enacted laws that allow judges to commit persons who are not guilty of crimes due to insanity or some other mental defect. These laws were passed in response to concerns that when not treated, people who are mentally ill could be a danger to themselves and others. Committing them prevents them from acting out their problems by hurting themselves or others.
The state of California has the most expansive law on this subject.
At your arraignment, you can enter a not guilty by reason of insanity plea. If you successfully persuade the jury in a California criminal jury trial that you are not guilty due to insanity, you will be sent to a state mental institution rather than being sent to prison.
The not guilty by reason of insanity defense was introduced into American law in 1857 by Judge John C. Calhoun in the case of _State v. M'Naghten_. He proposed that the defendant be allowed to prove that he was not responsible for his actions because he did not know the nature and quality of his act or if he did, that he was unable to distinguish right from wrong at the time.
In other words, someone who is insane cannot be held criminally liable for their actions. The American Law Institute adopted this defense in its revised version of the Criminal Code in 1961.
Today, most states have modified the M'Naghten rule by adopting some form of the irresistible impulse test. Under this test, also known as the diminished capacity defense, a defendant is considered to be not guilty by reason of insanity if they were incapable of forming the necessary intent to commit the crime due to mental illness or defect.
In addition to these defenses, many jurisdictions allow defendants to introduce evidence of their mental state at the time of the offense in order to mitigate their culpability.
It is still possible in several jurisdictions to force a person with a mental illness to get treatment if they refuse properly. However, in each case, there are a slew of legal hurdles to clear, implying that this will happen only on rare occasions.
The most common way that people without disabilities are forced to receive treatment is through the court system. If there is evidence that an individual with no history of mental problems is mentally impaired or dangerous to himself or others, then he can be committed to a hospital for treatment. In some cases, these individuals can later be released with support services if they have been declared fit for release. However, if they refuse treatment, then they can be re-admitted as an involuntary patient.
In addition to being committed to a hospital against his will, someone who is not disabled but has mental problems can also be made to take drugs by family members or guardians. These people can be relatives such as siblings or parents, or they can be professional caregivers such as private nurses or residential care facilities. Sometimes they will even be other patients at the facility where he is housed. They can make him take medications by withholding his food or forcing him into stressful situations (such as placing him in a room by himself). If after all efforts have been made to get the individual to accept the treatment and he continues to resist, then legal action may need to be taken.
A defendant is considered mentally incompetent to stand trial in California if, as a result of a mental condition or developmental handicap, he is unable to: (1) grasp the nature of the criminal proceedings; or (2) aid counsel in the conduct of a defense in a logical way. The Penal Code, Section 1367(a).
To be found mentally competent, a defendant must have "sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding" and "a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him." Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402 (1960); see also People v. Howard, 50 Cal.3d 798, 812-813 (1989). A defendant may be deemed mentally competent even though he has certain severe mental disorders which make it impossible for him to understand the nature of the charge or assist in his own defense. People v. Hiller, 23 Cal. App. 3d 774, 780-781 (1972). Nor does sanity at the time of the offense preclude a finding of competence to stand trial. (Ibid.)
Mental illness alone does not render a defendant incompetent to stand trial. Rather, only when such illness prevents a defendant from having knowledge of the charges or understanding of the proceedings is he deemed incompetent.
In general, those accused with more serious offenses, such as felonies and, in certain jurisdictions, violent crimes, are more likely to be accepted in mental health courts. The majority of participants in mental health courts have significant mental illnesses, and many often have co-occurring drug use disorders. Typically, they are charged with nonviolent property or misdemeanor-level offenses such as disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, loitering, trespassing, or vandalism.
Those who are accepted into mental health courts are required to comply with a program of supervision by an officer of the court. Violations of conditions can lead to increased penalties or revocation of probation. Those who fail to comply with conditions may be returned to jail or the community mental health center.
Mental health courts aim to provide better outcomes for individuals who suffer from mental illness by reducing recidivism and improving access to treatment.
About one in five adults in the United States suffers from some form of mental illness. These programs operate much like traditional criminal courts, except that defendants are handled through the mental health system rather than through the criminal justice system. Defendants will typically be required to complete an evidence-based counseling program with regular visits to a judge.