Criminal defendants in California are sometimes given the option to complete a mental health program as an alternative to jail time, or as a specific form of probation. This option is generally made available to people who have committed nonviolent misdemeanors due to some sort of mental disorder or instability. In the past, to use a mental health program, the defendant would be charged with a crime and be required to enter either a guilty or no contest plea before beginning treatment. . A recent legal change has provided new and exciting opportunities for some mentally ill defendants to avoid the need for a conviction before starting treatment.
California Assembly Bill 1810 (CA AB 1810) was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in late June 2018. Within paragraph 15 of the bill, it establishes updated diversion rules for criminal defendants using a mental health program. As the new law stands, a defendant can use an 18-month mental health program before any charges are filed, which also means there will not be any conviction.
This update is significant for criminal defendants all throughout the state. Being able to avoid both a conviction and initial charges when accused of a crime is a dramatic change from the current system. There are few things more valuable than a clean criminal record, and CA AB 1810 makes it more likely for people to keep their records clear.
As with other diversion and probation programs, a defendant using an updated mental health program will be required to follow a specific list of requirements and instructions. Violating any of those terms, or otherwise failing to complete the mental health program, will bring charges against the defendant, who must respond with a plea. Normal criminal proceedings will begin again, depending on the plea entered.
Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Fighting for the Accused
At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we strongly believe that mentally ill individuals accused of crimes should not be treated as criminals. These individuals should be afforded options for treatment, instead of incarceration. The updated mental health program rules present good opportunities for people in need to stay out of jail and keep their criminal records clean. As a result, they can continue to lead their lives normally, working towards a better future.
If you have questions about how to use a mental health program in your defense, or if you require criminal defense representation for an ongoing case of your own, please call (800) 462-7160 to talk with our team. Our attorneys are frequently featured in major newsgroups for both our insight into high-profile stories and our own impressive case results. Contact us at any hour of any day — we are here 24/7 for emergencies — to put our caliber of legal service in your corner.