Mental Health Diversion: an alternative to conviction
No one wants to feel unwell. If you or a loved one suffers from problems with mood, thought, or behavior, you know how hard it is to get through some days. Sometimes, symptoms of mental illness can lead you to act in ways you wouldn't even dream of on “better” days.
Too often, people suffering from mental illness are caught up in the California criminal court system. The system that was created to focus on punishment not treatment. That is slowly changing.
In 2018, California created an alternative to conviction for people whose mental health played a significant part in their crime. If you or someone you know would benefit from treatment instead of incarceration, a mental health diversion program might be an option.
Though the law is new, dedicated criminal defense attorneys like William S. Kroger have always known that mental health plays a significant role in why some people are arrested. Now we have a tool to help. Call us at 323-655-5700 or message us now. We can talk about your case in a free, confidential consultation at our Beverly Hills office. Because no one should face a criminal charge alone.
What is mental health diversion?
Mental health diversion is a pretrial program in California that lets you seek mental health treatment instead of facing a criminal trial or conviction.
Penal Code 1001.36 took effect in June 2018 and represents a significant change in how the criminal court system treats defendants with mental illness. Courts can now give a person the option to seek treatment instead of a criminal record.
How does mental health diversion work?
If you are accepted into a mental health diversion program, you must follow the agreed on treatment plan for the length of the program. The treatment program must regularly report to the court on your progress, and treatment can last up to two years.
If you successfully complete the mental health diversion program, the charges against you will be dismissed, and the record of your arrest will be sealed.
If you do not successfully complete the program, you can be prosecuted for the original charge.
Who is eligible for mental health diversion?
- The defendant suffers from a qualifying mental health disorder;
- This disorder played a significant role in the criminal allegations;
- A qualified mental health expert has determined that the defendant's symptoms that influenced the criminal behavior would respond to treatment;
- The defendant agrees to treatment through the diversion program and waives the right to a speedy trial;
- The defendant agrees to comply with all requirements of the diversion treatment program, and
- The judge determines that the defendant will not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety.
To be a qualifying mental health disorder, the diagnosis must be listed in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, now the DSM-5. These disorders include:
- Bipolar disorder;
- Schizophrenia, and
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Even though they are medically accepted mental disorders, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia do not qualify someone for a mental health diversion program.
Who pays for mental health treatment through diversion?
If you can afford private treatment, you can choose any private treatment that qualifies under the statute and agrees to take responsibility for your treatment and its reporting requirements.
If you cannot afford treatment, the court may refer you to publicly funded programs.
How can a California criminal defense attorney help me seek mental health diversion?
It's a defendant's duty to show he or she is eligible for mental health diversion. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help put together the evidence you need to make this showing. At Kroger Law Group, we can work with your doctors and other medical professionals to develop proof of your diagnosis. We'll investigate your case and help guide you through the steps needed to qualify for diversion. Then, we'll negotiate with the prosecutor or show the judge that you are a great candidate for the program.
Don't suffer alone. Contact Kroger Law Group today.
Almost everyone facing a criminal charge feels overwhelmed at times. It helps to know that you do not have to face your charge alone. You can seek treatment that will help you, and you may be able to use your treatment program to avoid a criminal conviction.
This is the right moment to reach out for help on your case. Call Kroger Law Group at 323-655-5700 or message us now.