Many crimes are committed by individuals who suffer from a mental health condition. Typically, the crime is a direct result of the condition itself. On June 27, 2018, the California Legislature addressed this situation by enacting a law that provides treatment for individuals who suffer from mental illness.

Mental health diversion is an alternative to a criminal conviction and penalties. Upon completion of the diversion program, the court will dismiss the case. They seal the arrest record, and it is treated as if it never happened. If you have been charged with a crime and suffer from mental illness, you should contact one of our Orange County mental health diversion lawyers. Our skilled defense attorneys could proactively fight for a diversion program to help you avoid traditional criminal penalties.

What is Mental Health Diversion?

State legislators understood that the prosecution and punishment of mentally ill individuals was not the best solution for rehabilitating these offenders. Therefore, California Penal Code §1001.36 or The Mental Health Diversion Law’s was enacted to stop repeat criminal offenses by those who suffer from a mental illness or disorder by allowing a willing defendants to postpone their case and participate in a mental health treatment program. The mental health diversion program can be requested by a local attorney at any time during a case up to sentencing. When an individual completes the diversion program, the charges are dropped.

Mental health treatment through the diversion program can be either private or public. In Orange County, there are three Mental Health Diversion Programs through the Orange County Collaborative Courts. They are Opportunity Court, Recovery Court, and Whatever It Takes (WIT) Court. The Law Office of Scott D. Henry has successfully provided the option of diversion to numerous clients, which ultimately resulted in dropped charges. Our compassionate lawyers have dedicated their careers to fighting for the freedom and well-being of our clients.

Eligibility Requirements for a Mental Health Diversion Program

The Mental Health Diversion Program has strict eligibility requirements. Both misdemeanors and felonies are crimes that are eligible for the diversion program. However, if a person commits certain crimes, they may not be eligible. These offenses include:

  • Sex Crimes
  • Assault with Intent to Commit a Sex Crime
  • Using a Weapon of Mass Destruction
  • Voluntary Manslaughter
  • Murder

Additionally, only individuals who are formally diagnosed with certain mental health conditions are eligible for diversion. The condition must be listed on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM.) Some common eligible conditions include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD,) and bipolar disorder.

There are, however, specific mental illnesses or disorders that are NOT eligible for the diversion program. Some of the most common ineligible conditions include pedophilia, antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Additional eligibility requirements include:

  • The mental health issue must have played a significant role in the charged criminal offense
  • The mental health expert in the case must believe the defendant will respond well to the mental health treatment.
  • The defendant must willfully consent to the diversion program and waive his or her right to a speedy trial
  • The defendant must agree to comply with all of the conditions of the treatment and diversion
  • The court must find that the defendant does not pose a risk to the community

The defense must provide proof that a licensed mental health expert has recently diagnosed the defendant with one of the qualifying mental health conditions. The experts usually draw their findings from an interview and examination of the defendant, the defendant’s medical records, and the arrest report.

Connection Between the Mental Health Condition and the Crime

To grant diversion, the judge must be satisfied the defendant’s condition was the contributing factor to the crime. Some information that may help the judge determine this include:

  • Medical Records
  • Reports by a Licensed Medical Health Expert
  • Witness Statements
  • Preliminary Hearing Transcripts
  • Police Reports

A skilled lawyer in Orange County could help someone with a mental illness provide proof that shows why they may be eligible for the diversion program.

How Long Does the Diversion Program Last in Orange County?

Mental health diversion programs can last up to two years. When determining the length of the defendant’s program, the court considers the prosecution’s request, the defense’s request, and the individual needs of the defendant.

If the defendant completes this program, the charges will be dropped, and the record will be sealed. A person completes the program once all of the requirements are satisfied, the defendant has not significantly violated the law during the program, and an individualized long-term mental health plan is in place. Our caring attorneys in the area could help someone navigate the legal process once they are admitted into a mental health diversion program.

Speak with an Orange County Mental Health Diversion Attorney

Scott D. Henry and his team have had unprecedented success in obtaining diversion programs for our clients, and ultimately having the charges dismissed. If you have been charged with a crime, please call our Orange County mental health diversion lawyers today. We could go over the specifics of the case and help determine the defense strategy that could result in a positive outcome.

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