Mental Health Diversion to avoid a Criminal Conviction
Mental Health Diversion pursuant to PC 1001.36 is a fairly new statute that came into effect on January 1, 2020. Mental Health Diversion is eligible for both Misdemeanors and Felonies, although there are certain specific offenses that are excluded from eligibility (ie. for example, murder, rape, and voluntary manslaughter are a few of the offenses that are specifically excluded from eligibility within the statute).
The motion is brought to the Cour, litigated and can be very complex, including documents and potentially testimony provided by a qualified mental health expert (ie. psychologist or psychiatrist). It is important to build a strong case for the diversion to be granted, giving the Judge as many reasons as possible to grant it. If granted, the Defendant can completely avoid a criminal conviction as well as some of the negative potential consequences (ie. Jail).
Under Penal Code section 1001.36, the court may grant pretrial diversion to a defendant if the defendant meets all of the following requirements:
- Defendant suffers from a mental disorder; (ie. bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder; NOTE that the list of qualifying disorders is long)
- Defendant’s mental disorder played a significant role in the commission of the charged offense;
- The symptoms motivating the criminal behavior would respond to mental health treatment;
- Defendant consents to diversion;
- Defendant agrees to comply with treatment as a condition of diversion; and
- The Court is satisfied that Defendant will not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.
If granted, the Defendant will generally be put on diversion for 1 to 2 years and have certain obligations to complete for the Court (ie. in a battery case, the Court may want the defendant to seek therapy or treatment to help with anger management issues).
Call me at 818-336-1384 if you have been charged with a criminal offense and want to discuss the possibility of a Mental Health Diversion for your case.
Philip Hache, Attorney