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.

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.

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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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What Exactly are Mental Health Courts?

17August
2018

A serious mental health illness can make court cases complicated. Luckily, adults with a serious mental health illness can attend a Mental Health Court. You may have heard of Mental Health Courts, but what exactly are they and who qualifies for them?

Definition

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Mental Health Courts are specialty courts that combines judicial supervision along with community treatment and support for those with a mental health illness. This process helps reduce criminal activity and improves the quality of life of the participants.

The goals of mental health courts include:

  • Reduce incarceration
  • Prevents participants from committing even more crimes
  • Provide mental health help and support

Who qualifies?

To qualify for Mental Health Courts, there are specific medical and legal criteria that someone must follow.

Medical – must have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or any axis 1 disorders, which include PTSD and depression.

Legal – Must attend court in the same county the participant lives in, but there are some crimes that automatically excludes qualifying for these specialty courts:

  • DUIs
  • Sexual offenses
  • Violent crimes resulting in injury

Requirements

It is always best to talk to a mental health attorney to know if you qualify and if a Mental Health Court is the right option for you. If you do end up attending a Mental Health Court, keep in mind that you must fully complete your sentence.

Participants must:

  • Follow the treatment plan that was given to them
  • Take any medications prescribed
  • Attend counseling/group sessions that will be provided to them
  • Report to the judge at least once a week (this can be reduced to once a month based on multiple factors)
  • Undergo standard probation rules including drug testing

The experienced mental health attorneys at Garcia Law Firm are here to help. If you think you could benefit from Mental Health Courts, contact us today for legal guidance.

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Mental Health Stigmas

16August
2017

Estimated to affect one in four Americans on average, mental illness is often considered to be a silent epidemic. Mental health stigma is a term used when people experiencing mental health issues are perceived negatively because of their condition, and may even face discrimination. Continue reading to learn about ways in which mental health is stigmatized, why this may make treatment more difficult, and what can be done to change society’s outlook on mental health.

How is Mental Health Stigmatized?

Mental health stigma exists in the workplace, in social settings, and even at the doctor’s office. People suffering from mental health issues generally hide their illness from coworkers in fear of losing their job or the respect of their peers. When people learn their significant other, family member, or friend is suffering from a mental illness, they may subconsciously withhold contact or look at them in a less favorable light. Studies also show that doctors are much less likely to follow up with patients battling depression compared with patients battling a physical illness.

Why Does Mental Health Stigma Make Treatment Increasingly Difficult?

Mental health problems do not discriminate and can affect anyone. People suffering from mental health issues may find themselves in a cycle of unstable relationships, difficulty finding and keeping jobs, and even homelessness. Finding a treatment plan that works can be difficult enough without having to deal with the constant fear of rejection and humiliation which often comes along with mental illness. People may avoid treatment in fear of people discovering their mental illness. When people suffering from mental illness feel ostracized, this acts as a catalyst for their condition to become worse.

What Can be Done to Prevent Mental Health Stigma?

In order to put an end to mental health stigma, people need to be educated on the various forms of mental illness. Many people assume mental illness sufferers are dangerous and violent, creating untrue stereotypes and judgements. Schools and workplaces need to improve mental health programs to educate the public and provide support for people who are suffering from mental illness, as well as the people who are affected by it.

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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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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

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Seeking Treatment Instead of Jail Time

15February
2017

Mental health is always difficult to deal with, but can become even more complicated when it leads the the committing of a crime. Whether someone is dealing with addiction or a mental health issue like bipolar disorder, jail time is usually not an efficient solution for the defendant or for society. Seeking treatment instead of jail time is an alternative that can have a very effective outcome.

Prison and Mental Health Don’t Mix

Throwing someone in jail doesn’t make their mental health issues go away. In most cases, it just makes them worse. Their underlying issues will still be there when they are released, making it even more difficult to re-assimilate into society. This will usually then lead to the person ending up back in jail.

Why Is Treatment So Important?

Mental health treatment offers a long term solution to improving a person’s mental health. This in turn will keep those affected with mental health conditions out of prison, and lower over all prison costs for tax payers. Seeking mental treatment isn’t always easy to do but it is a beneficial life decision.

Choosing Treatment Instead of Punishment

Alternative sentencing is usually based on the belief that rehab will be a more effective solution than prison. This gives people who have been caught up in crime because of drugs or other mental health problems the chance to better themselves. Treatment programs allow people to recover from addiction and to get the mental health treatment they need to get their lives back on track.

Prison isn’t the best solution for people wanting to recover and better themselves. It’s easy to get caught up in more drugs while in prison.

Who usually qualifies for treatment instead of jail time?

  • People who have committed a nonviolent crime may have the opportunity to enter into a treatment program.
  • People who don’t have a past criminal record may get the option to choose treatment over jail time.
  • If the person can demonstrate that they can benefit from rehab they may be given the option to do so.
  • A mental evaluation with a mental health care professional may qualify someone for treatment instead of jail time.
  • If the person can show they are dedicated to improving their self and living a crime free life they may be able to get treatment instead of jail time.

 

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What Are Sentences for Mentally Ill Offenders?

23January
2017

Many Americans with mental illness end up in jails and prisons each year. They also tend to spend longer terms in prison and end up back in prison costing local jurisdictions more money. They are typically jailed for nonviolent reasons and end up lacking the treatment they need. So what are other options for the mentally ill offenders that doesn’t involve incarceration?

Mental Health Sentences in Arizona

The best way to treat a mentally ill offender is to sentence them to some kind  of treatment program where they can get the help they need. Community corrections is an alternative to prison for nonviolent offenders. The mentally ill can benefit from these programs because they provide several treatments aimed at helping mental disorders and substance addiction. Below are several treatment options mentally ill offenders can be sentenced to:

  • Assessment and evaluation services: individual assessments and evaluations of substance abuse and mental disorders that can be requested by individuals, families, schools and the Criminal Justice System.
  • Mental health services: treatment programs specifically designed to treat mental illnesses in kids and adults short term and long term.
  • Sober living and recovery support: this is a safe transition space before fully returning to independent living or an alternative to residential treatment depending on the situation.
  • Mother and child residential services: professional services for pregnant women and women with young children in a residential setting.
  • Adult outpatient services: Adults have the option of receiving outpatient services that provide a comprehensive array of substance abuse and mental health programs. All programs use evidence based practices that are safe, supportive and accredited.
  • Adult residential services: residential treatments are catered to each individual and create solutions to meet each individual’s needs. Stay lengths are flexible and programs meet any treatment needs.
  • Adult detoxification and stabilization: medical and social detoxification and stabilization services that helps individuals detox safely and then connects them to the next level of care.

 

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