You may face criminal accusations and charges as a person with a mental health condition. Consequently, you may face criminal penalties, including detention for the accused crime. Despite this, you can request involvement in a diversion program as a special consideration for your mental condition.
If so, you face different rules and expectations that do not result in detention. If you want to join a mental health diversion program, you want to work with a skilled attorney who will guide you on the best approaches to inclusion in the program. Moreover, your lawyer will help you achieve the different expectations necessary to complete the diversion.
At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we provide quality legal services to help you handle a criminal accusation you face. Our role is to ensure that you receive mental health assistance in a diversion program to help you avoid unfair criminal prosecution. With our rich experience handling criminal diversion matters, you can count on us to provide the required legal and moral support for your benefit.
What a Mental Health Diversion Program Entails
Usually, you face criminal prosecution for an alleged offense if the prosecutor can show that you acted intentionally. The defenses to help you avoid criminal liability include claiming that you were not in the right state of mind due to a mental health condition. If the court decides to consider your claim, the judge can order a mental health diversion.
Section 1001.36 of the California Penal Code provides for the mental health diversion program by stating that the treatment should be available before the official trial. Thus, you can seek assistance with mental health conditions to reduce your chances of facing criminal liability. Nevertheless, you must satisfy several requirements before receiving authorization to join the program.
Once successful, the presiding judge records your details and begins monitoring your progress until you conclude the designated period. Notably, while the best time to request a mental health diversion is before the official trial begins, you can present the request any other time before receiving a sentence. This way, you avoid facing potential criminal liability that could warrant serious repercussions.
Upon joining the mental health diversion program, you will have halted any other trial engagements that result in sentencing. Thus, treat it like a form of postponing to allow you access to mental health support. Depending on how it goes, you do not have to resume the trial, and your case will have concluded. Based on these benefits, you want to do your best to achieve a successful diversion outcome with your attorney’s help.
Persons Eligible to Join the Diversion Program
Noteworthy, not all parties facing criminal charges and trials can apply to join the mental health diversion program. The presiding judge requires you to satisfy some conditions before approving the diversion. Familiarizing yourself with the pre-qualification requirements is essential because it prepares you to establish whether you can benefit from the program.
Additionally, the court requires you to meet all the conditions based on the strict selection criteria applicable. Subsequently, you need to work closely with your lawyer and a mental health professional to help you establish that you have met all the requirements.
The following factors comprise the eligibility criteria to meet before receiving approval to join the diversion program:
You Have a Valid Mental Health Diagnosis
Firstly, you must prove to the court that you have a valid mental health disorder diagnosis to warrant the diversion program consideration. The court can approve the various conditions, including bipolar disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Schizoaffective Disorder, and Schizophrenia.
Apart from stating that you suffer from the mentioned conditions, the judge will require evidence regarding your diagnosis. They do this to ensure that arrested suspects do not rely on the mental health disorder reason arbitrarily, which would hinder the proper attainment of justice. Furthermore, working without an appropriate record of evidence would impede the court process by triggering applications from aggrieved parties.
How to Prove You Suffer from a Mental Health Disorder
Based on the legal standard to prove that you suffer from a mental health condition, you want to work closely with a medical professional. They should have experience diagnosing and treating mental health disorders to provide valid evidence in court. Thus, you can request your defense attorney to source a professional or train your medical professional.
In doing this, you ensure that the judge receives quality evidence to prove that your case is more likely to be successful if you join a diversion program. The following are documentary evidence sources to rely on:
Arrest Documents that Detail the Events Leading to the Alleged Offense
Firstly, the mental health professional can use the arrest reports surrounding your arrest to source any information pointing to your mental health disorder. For example, they can study the arresting officer’s statement describing your actions and physical/bodily manifestations to conclude. For example, if you have schizophrenia, you are likely to constantly stare in different directions because of the common hallucinations you suffer from.
Moreover, your body movements can indicate anxiety or stress, which often indicates PTSD. Therefore, the police report can provide insight that becomes useful to back the mental health professional’s diagnosis of your condition.
Your Medical History Documents
Further, your medical professional can use your medical history reports to demonstrate that you have lived with a mental health condition for a while. Using the records to show when you first received your diagnosis and medical prescriptions will improve the credibility of your claims. In return, it will persuade the judge to consider allowing you to join the mental health diversion program.
When preparing the medical records, your attorney will help ascertain that the documents are in the required format. For example, they should be in the original copy to avoid any claims of duplication or forgery. Moreover, doctors' reports and prescriptions should have a stamp to certify their statements and orders. After proofreading all documents, you can submit them to the judge for further consideration.
Any Documents Relevant to Your Medical Examination Results
You should also provide any documents related to a medical examination you underwent before diagnosis. They will be vital because they include any notes your doctor made about your perceived mental state. Hence, the judge can refer to them when justifying your inclusion in a mental health diversion program.
The documents should also be original and have your doctor’s signature or stamp for credibility. You should also ensure that they demonstrate that you are living with a mental health condition that requires a diagnosis.
Proving that you live with a mental health condition can be quite straightforward, provided your claims have valid backing. However, you should also note that several exceptions apply to the medical conditions resulting in a mental health diversion.
Consequently, the judge does not consider the conditions if you have an antisocial personality disorder or pedophilic tendencies. The rationale is that you can learn to adjust your behavior to avoid acting on impulses arising from the condition. Moreover, there are no formal medical interventions to remedy the two conditions, as they require you to involve yourself more in social readjustments.
Finally, your claim to live with a mental health condition only works if you received the diagnosis within the past five years. Thus, presenting a claim based on a recent diagnosis is less likely to be effective. The court imposes the time limitation to prevent an arrested person from manipulating medical diagnoses to help them avoid criminal liability. Since a five-year diagnosis is more likely to be genuine, courts are more likely to accept it.
Nevertheless, your defense attorney and a trusted medical professional with experience treating mental health disorders can persuade the court to consider your case. However, this may only work in extreme circumstances where your mental health symptoms are very apparent.
You are Likely to Respond to Treatment After Professional Analysis
Secondly, you must convince the judge that you will respond to the treatment you receive during the mental health diversion session. To do this, your mental health medical professional should present information on your current mental state. They will then compare the information to the available treatment processes and predict the program's possible success.
Sometimes, the judge will require proof of your chances of responding positively to the treatment. Therefore, you may need to work under a trial period with the assigned medical practitioner to demonstrate your response rate to the treatment.
Moreover, the medical professional can present their testimony in court to further confirm that you are ready to undergo treatment available in the diversion program. The prosecutor may ask them a few questions to verify the validity of their claims, including whether they have dealt with similar mental health patients before.
You Agree to Forego the Formal Trial Process in Exchange for the Diversion Program
The presiding judge must also establish that you intend to forego the formal criminal trial process and instead focus on the mental health diversion program. They do this to ensure you understand your rights as an arrested person and during the trial.
Hence, you can expect the judge to read out the rights you waive by agreeing to join the diversion program. Afterward, they will ask you to confirm whether you are ready to forego the constitutional rights and adhere to new regulations. Once you agree, the judge can begin processing your diversion details if you have met all other requirements.
However, you cannot waive your right to a formal trial process if your diagnosis entails a serious mental health condition that impedes your ability to make clear judgments. If the judge approves your waiver under these conditions, it will violate your constitutional rights. Subsequently, the court acts under its discretion in these circumstances. Their decision should be based on your best interests, depending on whether the diversion program will benefit you.
The Judge That You are Not a Threat to the General Public
The presiding judge must also consider community interests before releasing you to join the mental health diversion program. They do this to ensure you do not pose a security threat to the general public, as this would be counterproductive to the justice system.
Subsequently, the judge may ask you questions in court to establish whether you are ready to reintegrate into society. They also refer to your charge sheet and your criminal history to check whether you will likely repeat your criminal engagements upon release.
Additionally, the court may authorize a short survey with the members of your community to establish whether they would feel safe upon your release. Based on the information the court receives, they will gauge the severity of your offense and establish whether your release is the best option.
The judge also considers the mental health practitioner’s opinion before authorizing your release, specifically on whether you can healthily interact with others. Thus, they may need to run a few tests or observe you for a short duration to provide a considered response to the court.
You Will be Compliant With the Mental Health Diversion Program Treatment
Your compliance with the mental health guidelines must be established before the judge allows your release. Therefore, you want to work with your attorney to demonstrate that you can follow the directives, guidelines, and restrictions issued to parties undergoing the program.
For example, you can provide evidence of previous engagements that required compliance and your progress during the events. In doing so, you will have a reference point for your claims, which is important to persuade the judge about your willingness to comply.
Moreover, you can take further steps to show that you have an elaborate plan to manage your condition and promote compliance during the program. For example, you can mention that you will be available for random progress assessments to determine your ability to comply.
Your Mental Health Condition Had a Link to Your Criminal Behavior
Lastly, you should prove that your mental health condition triggered your criminal engagements directly or indirectly. The information is necessary to validate your involvement in the diversion program, so you want to provide sufficient proof to show the consequences of your condition.
If you intend to demonstrate a direct effect of your behavior on your mental health disorder, you need a medical professional to ascertain the information you provide. For example, if you live with PTSD, the medical professional should demonstrate that your actions were reactive to protect yourself from events associated with your PTSD triggers.
You can choose various factors that may trigger mood or behavioral changes to show that your mental health condition indirectly affects your criminal involvement. For example, if the medication you take to manage your condition has side effects, you can show the link. This would mean demonstrating that the side effects were the main trigger for your behavior and reactions.
Factors for the Judge to Consider Before Allowing You to Join the Program
Despite proving all six elements necessary to qualify for the mental health diversion program, the judge still needs to consider additional factors. They do this to ensure that all relevant parties' opinions inform the final decision. Doing so is essential because it enhances the judge’s positive or negative decision validity.
Some factors for the judge’s consideration include:
Whether You Have a Violent Criminal History
In most cases, having a criminal history can be disadvantageous, especially when applying for a mental health diversion. A criminal record implies that you have committed offenses before and may demonstrate your inability to reform despite undergoing criminal reform programs. These include detention, fine payments, or probation.
Subsequently, the presiding judge may be more reluctant to authorize your participation in a mental health diversion program if you are a repeat offender. Nonetheless, your attorney can provide persuasive arguments to inform the judge that you have taken significant steps to reform since your last conviction.
Alternatively, they can argue that considerable time has passed since the last criminal involvement, so the factor should not seriously affect your current case. The proposition should be appropriate as long as you provide proof of your previous conviction and the case dismissal.
Whether the Prosecutor handling Your Case Approves the Diversion
Additionally, the prosecutor’s input is an essential consideration for the judge because they are in charge of preparing a case against you. Therefore, the judge may request the prosecution team to prepare a report surrounding your case and recommend the best action.
The prosecution team should also back their opinion with objective facts and not because they have a professional mandate to prove your guilty involvement in the offense.
Whether the Case Severity Allows for a Diversion Program
Some cases involve more severe facts than others, mainly if they cause irreversible harm and adverse effects to affected parties. Subsequently, the judge must consider whether your case warrants a release to join the diversion program or whether it is best to detain you until the trial concludes.
Murder and manslaughter are among the most serious offenses, and the judge cannot allow your release. Thus, you are less likely to benefit from the mental health diversion program under these charges because of their seriousness.
On the other hand, you can persuade the court to authorize your involvement in the program for other offenses like assault, robbery, or fraud because they are attributable to a mental health disorder. At the same time, the offenses may not have a severe and lasting effect like murder and manslaughter.
Whether a Mental Health Professional Approves the Treatment
A medical professional’s input is also necessary because they understand the chances of success in your treatment. Thus, they will provide their feedback as the court requires objective advice on whether to release you. Their opinion should have its basis in factual factors or data from similar cases and their outcomes.
They will have influenced the judge significantly based on their professional capacity by providing the information. Hence, you want to ensure that the professional assessing you is qualified and remains objective.
Expectations to Meet for Successful Completion of the Program
Once you join the mental health diversion program, you stay under constant assessment and scrutiny. The following are indicators that you are responding positively and are likely to complete the program successfully:
You followed all diversion treatment guidelines.
You intend to uphold your reformed mental health state long-term.
You did not commit additional offenses beyond your mental health condition.
Factors Amounting to an Unsuccessful Mental Health Diversion Program
Conversely, some parties need help to successfully complete the mental health diversion program. Consequently, they are liable to resume the original criminal trial, which may result in their conviction. Your mental health diversion program is unsuccessful if:
You face a new felony charge while receiving treatment for your current case.
Expert opinions from your mental health doctor are negative.
You face a different misdemeanor charge.
You participate in extreme criminal behavior that disqualifies you from the diversion.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
You need legal redress when you or a loved one faces criminal accusations for an offense committed while not in the right mind. Seeking legal remedies like joining a mental health diversion program in place of detention is beneficial, as it protects you from disproportional legal consequences.
Therefore, you want to work closely with your defense attorney to ensure you receive proper directives and support as you apply to join the program. With the appropriate legal representation, you will avoid facing a criminal trial and instead focus on the medical help available in the program.
At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, you can expect to work with reliable and experienced attorneys who will handle your case exhaustively. We help you join a mental health diversion program and complete the sessions. In doing so, you avoid the formal criminal trial process, provided you observe all the guidelines imposed during the diversion duration. For more information on how to join and complete a mental health diversion program, call us today at 424-333-0943.