When you consider that one out of every four Americans suffer from mental illness, it is no surprise that many people are wrongfully treated and locked up in treatment facilities against their will. Knowing how to communicate and effectively interact with a mentally ill person can be difficult, especially under stressful circumstances. For this reason, many people with mental illnesses suffer unjust treatment at the hands of police officers.
It is estimated that 7% of police contacts in jurisdictions that have over 100,000 people involve the mentally ill, and that an officer will average 6 encounters with a mentally ill person each month. The outset of mental illness is not a police problem, but a number of the problems that are caused by mentally ill people become police problems because of their extreme nature. Even though police and law enforcement agencies are trying to improve their response to incidents involving people with mental illness, there is still a lot of ground to be recovered.
Some of the most common situations that lead to police involvement occur when someone feels threatened by the unusual behavior of someone who is mentally ill. The two most problematic behaviors include threatening suicide and nuisance behaviors. If you or someone you love has been charged with a criminal offense because of behavior stemming from a mental illness, you may be able to seek protection with the help of a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with mental health law and the California Welfare and Institutions Code 5150.
This code gives a police officer the right to detain a person for up to 72 hours without a right to go to court and ask for a release if they believe that the person is unable to care for themselves or that they are a danger to themself or others. Here at Lessem & Newstat, we have extensive experience handling 5150 cases and defending the rights of mentally ill clients, so call our firm today!