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Options for People with Mental Illness Accused of a Crime

 Posted on September 06, 2022 in Criminal Defense

Santa Clara County Criminal Defense AttorneyMental illnesses affect millions of people across the country.  Unfortunately, some people with mental illnesses end up facing criminal charges. 

In California, mental health assistance and diversion programs that focus on treatment and rehabilitation instead of punishment are available to people with mental health issues. These programs help people get the treatment and mental health care they need. 

Pretrial Diversion Programs for People with Mental Health Problems

A pretrial diversion program is an alternative to traditional prosecution and sentencing. In a pretrial diversion program, the defendant agrees to participate in treatment and other services for a set period of time. If the defendant completes the program successfully, the charges against them may be dismissed. The arrest record is eventually sealed and not accessible to the public. 

California law allows criminal defendants to participate in mental health diversion programs if the following conditions are met:

  • The defendant has been diagnosed with a mental illness by a licensed mental health professional. 

  • The defendant’s mental illness was a significant factor in the commission of the offense. 

  • The defendant would benefit from treatment and supervision, as opposed to traditional prosecution and sentencing. 

  • The defendant is willing to give up his or her constitutional right to a speedy trial. 

  • The defendant agrees to comply with the treatment program. 

  • The court does not believe that the defendant is a threat to public safety. 

If the court finds that the defendant meets all of the above criteria, the court can order the defendant to participate in a mental health diversion program. 

Laura's Law and Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Laura's Law is a law named after a young woman who was fatally shot by a man with severe mental illness. The law provides assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) to individuals who meet certain criteria and cannot voluntarily access mental health services.  

AOT is a court-ordered treatment program that requires an individual to participate in outpatient mental health treatment. AOT is designed for people with serious mental illness who have a history of failure to comply with treatment, have been hospitalized or incarcerated as a result of their mental illness, and are considered likely to benefit from the program. 

Contact Our San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help 

If you or a loved one were charged with a criminal offense and suffer from mental illness, contact Fuller Law Firm for help. Santa Clara County criminal defense attorney Cory Fuller understands that people suffering from mental health problems need help, not punishment.  He can help you navigate the criminal justice system and get the treatment you need. Call us today at 408-234-7563 to schedule a free consultation. 




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