Mental health interacts with criminal justice in many ways. For example, because of a pronounced mental health problem, an individual may lack the mental state that is an element of an offense and therefore not be guilty. When, as a result of a mental disorder or developmental disability, a defendant is unable to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings or to assist counsel in the conduct of the defense, the defendant must be declared incompetent to stand trial. A person with a cognitive developmental disability may qualify for Diversion of misdemeanor charges. In some counties – including San Francisco – Behavioral Health Court offers individuals an opportunity for treatment that ensures that people with mental illness do not go through jail like a revolving door.
In addition, mentally ill individuals are more likely than others to be wrongly convicted, misled, misunderstood, and framed.
Even a not guilty verdict may not be sufficient to free a person suffering from severe mental illness from criminality and custody. Alanna D. Coopersmith encourages treatment, and she does everything in her power to work out a disposition of criminal charges that takes into account an individual’s mental illness.
Please call Alanna D. Coopersmith at (510) 628-0596 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.