Communicating Your Mental Illness to Your Attorney as Honestly and Accurately as Possible

17December
2018

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Working with a trusted criminal defense lawyer that you can be honest and open with is important. To receive the best legal representation, you need to always be up front with your attorney about your mental illness and the details surrounding your case. Remember, they are on your side so that you go through the justice system fairly and receive a fair punishment.

Communication starts with your attorney. The right attorney will encourage you to be honest and open the line of communication. Since they specialize in mental health cases, they know and understand what you are going through. All of your rights are protected, including your medical information and your legal issues. An experienced mental illness attorney will know how to break that lack of communication and will deliver compassionate, supportive and non-judgmental legal advice and representation.

When there are no secrets between you and your attorney, it will only help your case. As long as you let your attorney know all of the details, they will be able to help you receive a fair and reasonable punishment. If you are being charged with a crime and suffer from a mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, manic depression or other mental illnesses, highly consider visiting an experienced and skilled mental illness criminal defense attorney for legal advice and representation.

Garcia Law

With more than 25 years of experience, Garcia Law offers seasoned professionals that communicate fully with their clients. They know their clients’ rights and options, always making them feel like they are on their side. From a wide range of legal issues from felonies to misdemeanors, Garcia Law has the proper education and knowledge to fight for you. Just because you have a mental illness, doesn’t mean you should be silenced. Garcia Law will fight to ensure that you receive a fair case and punishment.

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I Have Been Charged with a Felony, Can a Mental Illness Attorney Help?

19November
2018

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Whether you have been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, the attorneys at Garcia Law will defend the mentally ill no matter the circumstances. Our staff has experience with all types of cases for the mentally ill such as DUIs, drug offenses, homicides, robberies and more. So, what can you do if you are mentally ill and have been charged with a felony?

The first step after being charged with a felony is to meet with a trusted and skilled attorney. A felony is a serious crime, whether it’s violent or non-violent. If you have been charged with a felony, you could face one to 25 years in prison. In fact, you most likely will serve at least one year of imprisonment. It depends on the crime, severity of the conviction and previous offenses. For example, a class 1 felony conviction can result in a 25 year sentence.

However, if you have a mental illness and are charged with a felony, don’t let that stop you from a fair court process. Legally accused of a serious crime can come with serious consequences. If you have a mental illness, you could bring your case to the mental health courts. Keep in mind that some mental health courts are restricted to misdemeanors. This is why legal representation from Garcia Law is beneficial. We will pay close attention to your case, finding ways to receive treatment instead of punishment, or a combination of both.

Why Garcia Law?

The attorneys at Garcia Law understand the legal system and the mentally ill. Your rights must be protected in the court system, especially if you have a mental illness.  Garcia Law has experience with those suffering from mental disorders such as bi-polar, schizophrenia, mood disorders, psychotic disorders and personality disorders. We understand that you are not in full control of your mental health and will seek justice no matter what.

 

Posted in Arizona Laws, Mental Health, Mental Health Defenses | Tagged , , , , , , |

What are the Conditions for Pleading Mentally Ill

18October
2018

In the state of Arizona, there are times when a person might be able to enter an insanity plea or mental disorder plea. This is when a defendant pleads guilty to a criminal offense, but does not take responsibility for their actions due to insanity or a mental illness.

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It can be difficult to stand trial when suffering from a mental illness. Arizona does offer the option to take certain cases to Mental Health Courts. These are specialty courts that combine judicial supervision along with community treatment and support for those with a mental illness. Mental Health Courts help reduce criminal activity and improve the quality of life of the defendants. They have been able to reduce incarceration and prevent more crimes from being committed, all while offering help and support.

To be able to enter a mental disorder plea, the defendant must undergo an exam and the results must be disclosed. When pleading mentally ill, this doesn’t mean the defendant is not guilty, but that they were unaware of the criminal offense they were committing because of a mental illness. Arizona uses the M’Naghten Rule to test if the defendant was sane during the time of the crime. Under this rule, the defendant could be found not guilty or receive a lesser sentence if they are unable to determine right from wrong. Essentially, they were unaware they were doing something wrong when committing the crime.

Legal services and representation are available for defendants with a mental illness that commit arson, robbery or even assault. When pleading mentally ill, you could get the treatment you need to change your life, reduce your sentence or go to a mental health facility instead of spending time in jail. In some cases, charges could even be dropped.

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Am I Eligible for Mental Health Court?

26September
2018

If you have a mental illness and are facing charges, dealing with the legal system can be an overwhelming experience. Fortunately, there are certain circumstances where a person with a mental illness can qualify for mental health court, making the process much easier.

What are mental health courts?

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Mental health courts are specialty courts that combine judicial supervision along with community treatment and support for those with a mental illness. The purpose of these courts is to help reduce criminal activity and improve the quality of life of the participants. Mental health courts have seen success by reducing incarceration, preventing more crimes from being committed, and offering help and support.

Who qualifies for mental health courts?

Defendants can only be referred to mental health courts by defense attorneys, judges, service providers, jail staff, or family members. To be considered to participate in mental health court, a defendant must agree to plead guilty. Each program varies by state, but most mental health courts will accept defendants that suffer from a severe mental illness such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Offenses accepted in the courts can range from misdemeanors to felony charges. However, DUIs, sexual offenses, and violent crimes resulting in injury are usually excluded automatically.

Mental health court approval

All defendants are screened early on, either at the jail or by a court staff. Each mental health court is a little different when it comes to what offenses are accepted, all depending on their jurisdiction. All mental illnesses must be diagnosed by a doctor after a comprehensive assessment following the screening process. The defendant must fully agree to comply with all of the mental health courts terms and conditions.

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Is Working Affecting Your Mental Health for a Compensation Claim?

18June
2018

We all know jobs can be stressful. The daily pressures can lead to physical issues and even psychological issues. Especially when an employer happens to conduct atrocious behavior. You may even be able to have a workman’s compensation claim for the mental illness caused by your employer and workplace.

Who is eligible?

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All employees have the right to file a legal claim or workman’s compensation claim if they think they received an injury while at work. Most employers usually have workman’s compensation coverage or some type of state funded coverage. If you have any serious injuries from an incident at work, you should file a workman’s compensation claim immediately. If you have been showing signs or symptoms of depression, anxiety or any other mental illness, you still may be able to file a workman’s compensation claim as well. Sometimes the signs are subtle, but it still leaves a big impact on the mental and physical health of the employee.

Providing evidence

When filing a claim, you must be able to provide sufficient evidence including documentation from a licensed psychologist. All of your evidence must be clear and convincing. It can be difficult to prove that your mental illness was a direct result caused by your employer or workplace. It still can be done though. Document any events to help prove your case and always keep track of dates, times, any witnesses and other important details.

You might have a case if…

If you feel you have been impacted so much by the behavior of your employer or the environment of your workplace that it has caused a mental illness, you might have a case. You should speak with an employment or mental health attorney to know your rights. Common causes could include belittling, intimidation, yelling during work or aggravating conditions in the workplace that could include timers, monitoring and excessive control.

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Employer Responsibilities Regarding Mental Health

18May
2018

In recent years, workplaces have been known to implement programs benefiting the physical, mental and overall wellness of the employees. Many companies have even added a Chief Wellness Officer to the staff.  Still, more needs to be done. What else can employers do to help break the stigma about mental health and talk about it more openly in the workplace?

The Issue

Many employees are afraid to talk to their employer about mental health and for many reasons.

  • Afraid of losing respect from their employer
  • Afraid their job or promotion could be at risk
  • Feeling ashamed
  • Increased anxiety
  • Afraid to ask for accommodations

What can employers do to help?

Employers need to take offer additional resources to help with mental health in the workplace.

  • Work-life balance – Giving the option to work from home can help decrease anxiety in employees. Having the flexibility to know that they can work from home, let’s say during a bad storm when weather makes it difficult to get to work, will eliminate any extra stress. The fair policies in place should be beneficial to both the employees and company.
  • Paid Time Off – When employees receive paid time off, they will not feel guilty or uncomfortable when they are unable to go to work if they are sick. By having less options like this at work, many employees feel powerless. Plus, time off helps better the performance of employees, which benefits the company overall.

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Communication is key!

Communication is of course key. Employers should talk openly about their policies that help with the mental health of their employees. The way employees interact with each other at work and the environment of the workplace can also play a big impact on the mental health of employees and their performance, which is why employers want to make the workplace an ideal and pleasant experience for all.

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Arizona Moving To Add AHCCCS Five-Year Limits

18September
2017

Arizona is moving to tighten requirements for Medicaid eligibility. It could become one of the first states to impose work requirements and five-year lifetime limits on “able-bodied” adult enrollees. While this plan has been delayed for over 5  months, the Trump administration appears to be favorable to the plan and the state hopes to get their answer in 2018.

What Does “Able-Bodied” Mean?

Abled-bodied is defined by the law as anyone over the age of 19 who is mentally and physically capable of having a job. Under this new requirement, anyone who is judged to be mentally healthy enough to work a job can only be covered by Medicaid for 5 years in their entire life.

There are exceptions to the able-bodied requirement for people in certain circumstances. These exceptions apply to anyone who is still in high school at or after age 19, sole caregivers of children under age 6, anyone who qualifies for the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) and anyone already receiving long-term disability. For people with the above circumstances that may be able to be insured by Medicaid for longer than 5 years.

What Does This Mean For Mental Health?

If you are determined by a medical health care professional to be mentally unfit for employment, you can still apply for Medicaid and may be eligible for longer than five years. The draft of the new law is not specific enough yet to list what determines a person’s mental health status. It does not exempt people with disabilities and mental-health issues.

Other Provisions To The Law

The draft of the new law contains other provisions for people who are eligible to receive Medicaid. They include:

  • Enrollees would be required to verify that they are meeting the work requirement and any changes in family income on a monthly basis.
  • The ability to ban enrollees for a year if they knowingly fail to report a change in family income or make false statements about their compliance with work requirements.

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New AZ Supreme Court Ruling On Insanity Defense

18July
2017

A new Supreme Court Ruling was decided earlier this month that says a defendant pleading insanity and voluntarily undergoing a mental health exam must provide the results to the prosecutor of the case.

The ruling also states that the defendant with a mental health defense must include a statement about their impending charges. The prosecutors are not allowed to use this statement to prove guilt but they are able to use this statement to rebut the defendant’s insanity claims.

The new ruling calls into question whether requiring disclosure violates the defendants’ Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. But the ruling released by the Supreme Court states that no rights are violated by this decision. This is because defendants claiming insanity have waived their protection against self-incrimination.

The ruling was issued in the case of Josh Rasmussen awaiting trial in a 2013 Glendale homicide case. The decision was unanimous.

What Does This Mean For Others With A Mental Health Defense?

Claiming to be insane during the time that you committed a crime is not always an easy thing to do. In claiming that, you are saying that you did, in fact, commit the crime. But you are also trying to prove that you were not in your right mind when the crime happened and that you’d like to get treatment rather than be incarcerated. It’s not a get out of jail free card and it’s not taken lightly.

Now, with this new ruling, you must give all records from you mental health exams to the prosecutor of your trial. If you are mentally ill, the records will show that. If you have a good mental health defense attorney on your side this will only help your case. Contact us if you need an expert on your side.

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La Paz County Votes To Lower Mental Illness In Jails

21June
2017

A unanimous vote taken by the La Paz County Board of Supervisors early this month will commit them to a national incentive aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill people in county jails.

Stepping Up Initiative

La Paz CountyStepping Up is a national initiative dedicated to reducing the number of people with mental illness in jails. Each year in the United States, there are an estimated 2 million people with mental illness admitted to county jails. Jails now house more mentally ill people than psychiatric hospitals.

This creates a number of problems that Stepping Up is dedicated to fixing. The majority of mentally ill people winding up in jail suffer from drug and alcohol problems, and they are more likely to return to jail upon release than those without these illnesses.

Jails spend two to three times more money on people with mental illnesses, costing taxpayers even more. Although resources are limited and a great amount of change is required to improve the jail system, Stepping Up is the first step to improvement.

The county’s decision makes La Paz the 15th Arizona County to join the Stepping Up initiative and makes Arizona the first state to have all of its counties join.

A board member of David’s Hope, a mental health advocacy organization that leads the Arizona Mental Health Criminal Justice Coalition, Steven Harvey said that this is only the first step. A lot of follow-up work has to be put in by everyone involved. The county’s next steps are to begin working with their mental health system on ways to treat people with mental health illnesses that have committed a small crime. The goal is to get them into a treatment program where they can recover, rather than sticking them in jail where they’ll just get worse.

Mental health care centers are already ready to work with the county’s jails in treating adults with mental illness.

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Tucson Police Will Be Trained in Handling Mental Health

30May
2017

Police officers in Tucson have begun to receive training to better handle mental health crisis calls. Chief Chris Magnus said that 500 officers are expected to complete training by the end of the year. This puts the Tucson Police Department ahead of the rest of the country in mental health training.

Mental Health Support Team

Tucson Police DepartmentThe police department’s Mental Health Support Team are the personnel responsible for going out to de-escalate a crisis in a serious situation, but they are not typically the first responders. Tucson PD aims to have all their patrol officers trained on how to handle mental health crises because they are typically the first to respond.

In the past two years, officers transported 4,060 people in crisis for mental health evaluations and treatment.

Criminal justice workers, law enforcement officers, and behavioral-health experts in Pima County all came together to discuss treatment rather than jail terms for those suffering from mental health and substance abuse at a Decriminalizing Mental Illness conference.

“Two million people a year with mental health and substance abuse issues are incarcerated nationwide. Jails have become de-facto mental health institutions,” said Magnus

The officers will take an eight-hour course that covers situations including how to deal with someone having suicidal thoughts, depression, panic attacks, traumatic events affecting adults or children, acute psychosis, aggressive behavior, and those undergoing substance abuse and need emergency medical treatment. Magnus said there is already a waitlist for officers who want to complete the training.

The people the TPD offers help to are not just people on the street, they are families and friends at every socioeconomic level.

Magnus plans on having every officer on every level of the department trained on mental health crisis, including detectives, dispatchers, supervisors and remaining staff members

Photo by Jerilyn Quintanilla

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