Crimes and Mental Health
If you have psychiatric issues and have been charged with a crime in California, you will need a knowledgeable mental health attorney to protect your best interests in and out of court. You should look for a California criminal defense attorney who has successfully kept mentally ill clients out of prison and has helped them get the psychiatric help they deserve.
The experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Rosenfeld Law Firm have a comprehensive understanding of California’s mental health laws, and they will use this knowledge to protect your rights.
How Your California Mental Health Attorney Can Help
There are two issues at hand when dealing with a client’s mental health as it relates to the criminal justice system:
- Is the client currently competent to stand trial?
- Was he or she legally sane at the time the crime was being committed?
Whether or not you were legally sane at the time of the crime is unrelated to your competency to stand trial. In other words, a person can be legally sane when a crime is committed and then become mentally incapacitated after their arrest. Likewise, a defendant may have committed a crime during a temporary psychotic episode but be fully capable of standing trial at present. In either case, your California mental health attorney will ask the court to provide you with a psychiatric evaluation.
Incompetency and Insanity: What You Should Know
Under California law, if your psychiatric evaluation shows that you do not understand the charges against you and are not capable of assisting in your own defense, you will be found incompetent to stand trial. Should that be the case, you will be housed and cared for at a California psychiatric facility until such time as you are found competent. If, however, you do not recover after three years, your mental health attorney will represent you at a hearing at which your long-term treatment options will be discussed.
Insanity pleas are handled quite differently. In order to successfully use an insanity defense, your attorney must show that you were either:
- Unaware of what you were doing when you committed the crime, or
- Aware of what you were doing but unaware that it was wrong
Because all citizens are presumed sane unless proven otherwise, the burden of establishing an insanity defense is on your California criminal defense attorney. He or she must enlist the help of expert witnesses including psychiatrists, criminal pathologists and any other individuals who may have witnessed you behaving erratically within the timeframe of the crime.
Earmarks of Legal Insanity
During the commission of a crime, a legally insane person will typically make no attempt to avoid witnesses or evade arrest. Neither will he or she try to hide evidence after the fact. The criminal defense attorneys at The Rosenfeld Law Firm have a great deal of experience helping clients with mental health issues. They take a proactive approach to every case, aggressively seeking to keep their mentally ill clients out of prison and in treatment when needed. If you have mental health issues that are affecting your criminal case, contact The Rosenfeld Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.
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Along with legal advice, The Rosenfeld Law Firm in Sacramento, California, offers experience and representation in other pertinent areas of practice including prison law, mental health law, appellate law, and federal criminal defense.