Man Accused of Tucson Killing Had a History of Mental Illness

6May
2019

People who are charged with serious crimes of violence sometimes have a past of mental illness. Police said a man accused of killing a woman in Tucson earlier this year had a long history of psychiatric disorders.

A report in Tuscon.com said the man implicated in the death of a 61-year-old woman struggled with mental illness and violence.

Man arrested over Tucson killing has mental health issues

Man accused of Tucson killing suffered mental health issues

Robert J. Ocano, 22, is being held on a $1 million bond. Police accused him of attacking a woman who let him into her apartment the previous day and gave him food.

Police said he returned to the apartment of the woman and launched a violent attack on her.

The report said police previously arrested Ocano for a violent crime in the Tucson area. He was arrested for assault and disorderly conduct close to the scene of the recent crime in 2017, according to reports.

The report cited at least three cases against him in Tucson City Court since 2017 involving violence.

After allegedly grabbing a woman at an apartment complex laundry room in 2017, the case was sent to Superior Court to assess Ocano’s competence for court proceedings. He was found to be incompetent and unable to be restored to competency. However, he was not deemed to be a threat to public safety. The report stated charges against him were dropped. He was released to a mental health facility.

Police charged Ocano over two violent incidents that were later dismissed.

The article quoted Allen Merritt, deputy city attorney, who said the dismissals were linked to the defendant’s mental health issues and his behavior was deemed to be mostly threats.

The deputy city attorney referred to a balancing act when a defendant with mental illness is considered not competent to stand trial and is unable to be restored to competency. When the individual is not considered a threat to public safety, charges are generally dropped. Merritt said:

“(Ocano) made some threats that were disturbing … but when the officers did their investigation, he didn’t have the apparent ability to follow through on the threat.”

Ocano’s record pointed to a lifelong of mental health issues, according to Tuscon.com.

Records showed he was a client at the behavioral health center La Frontera from 2003, when he would have been just 7 years old, until 2015. He returned in 2017. After the charges from the laundry-room attack were dismissed in April 2018, he was readmitted. The account quoted records filed at Superior Court. La Frontera considered Ocano to be seriously mentally ill.

La Frontera CEO Dan Ranieri said people who are found to be incompetent by the courts but are not a public danger receive outpatient care like other patients. They receive assistance with issues like therapy, medication, housing, and case management.  La Frontera can take additional steps if a patient is deemed to be a danger, but most people with mental illness are not violent, Ranieri said.

Competency and Rule 11, which determines if a defendant is fit to stand trial, is an important part of Arizona’s criminal justice system. At the Garcia Law Firm, our attorney works on competency cases. Please call the firm today at (602) 340-1999.

Posted in Mental Health Defenses | Tagged |

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

17December
2018

Photo by Pexels

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.

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

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

19November
2018

Photo by Pexels

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.

Photo by Sebastian Pichler on Unsplash

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.

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

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?

Photo by Pexels

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.

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

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?

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

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.

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

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.

Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

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.

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , |

How Social Media Can Impact Your Mental Health Case

18April
2018

Social media has taken the world by storm. It has changed the way we interact with each other by using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We use these to update everyone on everything going on in our life. However, sharing too much information can be harmful to your legal case.

Photos & Posts

Photos and updates from social media have been used more and more as evidence in court cases. These things can produce doubt in your character as well as your version of events highlighted in the case. If you are facing an injury or mental health case, posting posts or photos of you doing things that goes against your claims could really harm you. For example, if you are claiming you have an injury, but post something about you dancing, that could be an issue. Also, if you are claiming that you are suffering from depression, but post that you are out having fun, this could discredit you. Admitting really anything about your case or your incident on social media could be used against you. Especially if you are using apps that having tracking devices on them as they could dispute the time and place of your whereabouts. Keep in mind that posts can usually be inadmissible in court, but photos and videos are very hard to dispute. It is best to keep a low profile while going through any legal case, especially if it is a mental health case.

Emotional Distress & Mental Health

Cases that revolve around pain, suffering emotionally or mental health can still use social media posts as evidence. If you are portraying a very positive and happy life, this could be used to question your credibility and your claim that you’re really suffering emotionally. In most cases, this has actually worked. Even photos of you out at social activities smiling could be used against you.

Protect Yourself

To protect yourself from having this kind of evidence brought forward to harm your case, you should avoid posting on social media or even deactivating your profiles for a while. You may think that your information is private, but it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are open with your attorney through the whole case and never talk about your case on social media, you should be able to avoid drawing any extra attention to yourself.

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

Program Tackles Mental Health Talk at Arizona Schools

18February
2018

Thanks to a new program, mental health is starting to be discussed more in Arizona schools starting this year. There are currently no standards for mental health education in Arizona schools. But some school districts are taking the issue into their own hands and changing the current system by opening up the conversation on mental health.

“Ending the Silence”: A New School Program

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 10 to 24 year olds in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, around 18 percent of Americans suffer with a mental illness. That is why they have started the program, “Ending the Silence”. The program consists of a classroom presentation for middle and high school students to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

The Program has Already Been Adopted into Several Schools Throughout Southern Arizona

Arizona is planning to expand the program across even more schools in the state. It has already received positive and encouraging feedback from participating students, with 19 percent reporting that is has made them take action to get help. Take home handouts are also available to help students feel more comfortable about openly discussing the topic with their parents. The stigma surrounding mental health has been an issue causing teens and young adults to feel embarrassed or ashamed, preventing them from talking about it.

Some School Districts are Also Starting to Require Health Education

There were 47 reported suicides in Arizona in the year 2015 and 98 percent of them were found to have been preventable. Because of this, some school districts are creating health education classes as required credits to expose students to more mental health education. Arizona schools are hoping that by opening up the conversation about mental health, more students will understand it and feel more comfortable asking for help.

Photo by Michal Jarmoluk

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged , |

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.

Photo by Paul Fearn

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged , , , , |