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.

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

New Regulations Added for Sober Living Homes in Phoenix

18July
2018

The valley of the sun has seen a recent spike in sober living homes. However, the increased number of homes are causing some issues with surprised neighbors, forcing them to take action.

Currently, there is no way to tell or know for sure if a sober living or recovery home is in your neighborhood or plans to come to your area. This is because there is no database that keeps track of these homes. Furthermore, this means that there is also no one regulating these home.

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Why a spike in sober living and recovery homes? It is reported that heroin and other drugs are becoming easier to find and are now cheaper. Many people need treatment after they become addicted and these homes are a source for it,  but since some group homes are not regulated, the sober living residents get taken advantage of. Often times, these homes will take the money of the residents, but not make them adhere to any rules. So in the end, they are actually not getting the help they need to get on the road to recovery.

Since no one is really in charge of overseeing or managing these homes, neighbors in these areas have been looking for ways to change that. A group of residents came together and was able to get the Phoenix City Council to pass new regulations on sober living and recovery homes. These regulations include a $1,500 licensing fee for homes and spacing rules, meaning that these homes cannot be too close to each other, occupying the same area. There is no official list of homes, so enforcing these new regulations could be a challenge. However, the Arizona Recovery Housing Association has stepped up and is trying to regulate a handful of sober living and recovery homes.

 

Source: ABC 15

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, Probation | 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?

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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.

Posted in Arizona, Arizona Laws, 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 , , , |

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

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

Phoenix Police Department Starts “Mental Health Squad”

11February
2016

Law enforcement is a tough job, in many aspects, but one particular aspect—interacting with mentally ill civilians (who may be acting extremely erratically)—should be getting a little easier. A group has been started to assist officers interacting with the mentally ill, the “Mental Health Squad.”
phoenix police mental health squad
The squad consists of one sergeant and six officers, who will work flexible and strategic schedules that align with the days/time of day when Phoenix PD see the most mental health incidents. NAMI Arizona shows that the Phoenix Police Department handles about 4,000 mental health incidents per year.

Phoenix Police Commander Matt Giordano explains, “It is our job to maintain calmness, and that will translate to the person in crisis and help them remain calm.” The Phoenix Mental Health Squad was influenced by similar programs in Los Angeles, San Diego and Houston.

This organization comes in some part as a result of highly publicized police violence in 2015, including the killing of mental patient, Erik Tellez. When authorities tried to communicate with Tellez, a known mental patient, he started shooting. One officer was shot in the shoulder, and Tellez was killed. Could this incident have been handled in a different way? Definitely. Perhaps if the Mental Health Squad was on the scene, they could have calmed down Mr. Tellez and gotten him the psychiatric help that was clearly needed.

Posted in Mental Health Defenses | Tagged , , , |