How Assessment by a Mental Health Professional Can Help You Get Your Case Dismissed

New Laws in California: A Fresh Focus on Mental Health

In the last five years, there have been significant developments in the state of California criminal law that has begun to focus on the role of mental health or mental illness in criminal offenses. This includes, for instance:

  • The opportunity for Mental Health Diversion under Penal Code section 1001.36, for felonies or misdemeanors;
  • Diversion or special relief for veterans or current military personnel who have developed mental illness – including substance abuse disorders – as a part of their service, under Penal Code sections 1001.90 and 1170.9;
  • Diversion for most misdemeanors under Penal Code section 1001.95, whereby mental health issues are a factor that the Court may consider;
  • Relief for those who have “strike priors” to get those priors stricken or removed from their current case where the current offense may have been motivated by a mental health disorder, under Penal Code section 1385;
  • As a factor to be considered in imposing a sentence after trial or plea, under Rule of Court, Rule 4.423.

There are many other circumstances where the presence of a mental illness – that can include substance abuse disorders in addition to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other bona fide mental health diagnoses.

But, such possible assistance to your current case on the basis on mental health disorders requires a legitimate assessment by a mental health professional, such as a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist, or Licensed Public Counselor.

Asking Your Attorney for a Referral to a Mental Health Professional

If you believe that your arrest and prosecution may have been motivated by some type of mental health disorder, including substance abuse or PTSD, you need a bona fide mental health professional to evaluate you and assess your case, taking into account, specifically, the circumstances of your arrest, life history, past mental health diagnoses or treatment, and current mental health status.

A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can assist you in a referral to such a mental health professional if he or she believes that such an assessment could be beneficial to your case, and would be able to select a suitable professional for your situation (e.g., specializing in PTSD, substance abuse, trauma, etc.). It is not always obvious that a mental health assessment would be of such benefit in a given case, which is why it is so important to select a criminal defense lawyer who has the experience and breadth of knowledge you need.

Call Honeychurch & Boyd for the Knowledgeable Attorneys you Need to Obtain the Best Results

At Honeychurch & Boyd, we have assisted countless of clients since 1978 apprise the Court, and juries, of mental health and substance abuse issues in a manner in which treatment takes priority over punishment, and are very well acquainted with mental health professionals of every stripe that can assist you if your specific situation would be benefited from their assessment.

If you or a loved one have been arrested, investigated or charged with a crime in Fairfield, Vacaville, Suisun, Benicia, Rio Vista, Vallejo, or outer Solano County, or within any area of Napa County or Yolo County, experience matters and your liberty is at stake. Call our office today for a free consultation as to how we can defend your interests and seek to obtain the best possible result for your case.

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