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.

 

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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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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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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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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.

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Arizona Raises Awareness for Mental Illness

18December
2017

Candlelight Celebration For Mental Illness Awareness

Every year, a candlelight celebration is held to raise awareness for mental health in downtown Phoenix. The Mental Health Awareness Coalition and Arizona State University Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy hosted the 22nd annual celebration this year with the theme of embracing the journey that mental health has put many people on. While mental health is a difficult thing to deal with and can cause serious pain, it is important to celebrate those who have conquered or who have begun to get in control of their mental health and to honor the journey they have been on because of it.

Aside from bringing awareness to and celebrating mental health, this event provides Valley residents with a number of resources for those who need or know someone who needs help with mental illness. At the event, attendees have the opportunity to speak to the representatives of many different organizations that provide help and resources to valley residents struggling with mental illness. This event is so helpful because it shows people what types of help are out there and it allows them to gain information all in one place.

Arizona’s Lack Of Mental Health Care

Although this event and others like it are designed to provide resources to those in need of mental health guidance, access to mental health care is still lacking. According to Mental Health America, Arizona ranks 40th in the country’s access to mental health care. One of the biggest problems is de-stigmatizing mental health and mental health education.

Events like the one held by The Mental Health Awareness Coalition and Arizona State University Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy are a great step in the right direction because they spread awareness throughout communities. Not many people feel comfortable talking about mental health, but having events that celebrate it encourages them to do so. The more people that are educated about mental health the more progress that can be made.

Photo by Andreas Lischka

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Arizona Prisons Struggle with Rise in Inmate Self-Harm

18October
2017

As the mental health care in state prisons becomes increasingly worse, more and more inmates are attempting to harm themselves. New reports on inmate self-harm have come in as a result of the ADC attempting to settle a lawsuit over poor health conditions in state prisons. According to the data, hundreds of inmates in Arizona prisons have hurt themselves and tried to take their own lives this year. 

Mental Health in Arizona Prisons

Inmate self-harm has increased dramatically in the past year due to the lack of mental health care in state prisons. According to the ADC report, total incidents have increased by 70 percent. Over 80 inmates have tried to hang themselves and more than 138 have tried to overdose. The number of inmates using blunt force trauma such as banging their head against the wall of inserting sharp objects into their bodies to harm themselves has also almost tripled in just one year.

What this problem comes down to is the understaffing of health-care professionals in state prisons. For example, the state prison in Douglas, AZ has no medical director and just one psych associate. There’s just not enough care about mental and physical health in the state prison system and therefore no one is worried about getting resources into the prisons to help people get better. 

The state prison in Phoenix, which was designed for seriously mentally ill inmates, has less than half of the psychiatric staff that was supposed to be employed there, as well as having no psychiatric director and no mental health director.

In attempts fix the self-harm problem, the state is now training personnel on how to handle inmate self-harm incidents. They have also started a program to help watch and transition inmates back into the population after they’ve harmed themselves.

According to the ACD, the year 2018 is already on track to be the worst in inmate self-harm.

Photo courtesy of Pavlofox

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