Ventura Mental Health Court Attorneys
Helping Santa Barbara Clients Navigate California’s Mental Health Court System
Criminal defense and mental health can quickly become entangled if an individual’s mental condition contributes to the charges they face. This is especially true when a person meets the formal definition of insanity, in which case there is a reasonable chance their offenses could primarily be the result of mental instability or incapacitation. In these situations, jailtime is often not an effective means of helping the defendant or the community at large.
The United States justice system has historically faltered in its ability to serve the needs of those suffering with mental health problems, but the state of California has in more recent years taken steps to specifically address institutional wrongs. Mental health courts have been operating since 1999 and work in conjunction with sanity hearings to determine the most productive rehabilitation for defendants struggling with mental illness. This can include judicial relief through the state’s Mental Health Diversion program, which permits treatment in the community instead of incarceration.
Our Ventura mental health court lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP have decades of experience protecting the rights of individuals battling mental health conditions. We are committed to fighting for the rights and futures of these individuals and their families, which means pursuing all available means of judicial relief and potential avenues of recovery. Our team is familiar with the state’s mental health court systems and relevant treatment programs and can help you understand your legal options.
Mental Health Courts Serving Ventura County
Since founding its first mental health court in 1999, the state of California has introduced several additional courts, including several in and around Los Angeles.
The felony/misdemeanor unit of the Ventura County District Attorney’s office manages mental health cases. The Ventura court system facilitates the review and drafting of any petitions involved in mandating treatment at designated state hospitals for persons with mental health conditions.
The county’s court also manages Murphy Conservatorships where necessary. This special class of conservatorship is intended for defendants who have been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial and potentially dangerous to those around them should they appear in court. The conservator in a Murphy Conservatorship, as handled by the court, stands in for the defendant during these proceedings.
The Superior Court of Los Angeles, also known as Department 95, manages legal issues involving mental health in conjunction with criminal offenses. If the defendant’s residence is in or in relative proximity to Los Angeles, they and their legal representation will likely interact with Department 95 at some point during the legal process. The Department’s Supervisor for Mental Health conducts sanity hearings and oversee other matters involving offenders with mental disorders.
Persons seeking to alternative judicial relief through a mental health court will need a petition from these offices. Our Ventura mental health court attorneys have ample experience navigating the offices and systems relevant to those living in Ventura county and can work to efficiently get your petition instated or renewed.
The goal of mental health courts is to make sure individuals dealing with debilitating mental conditions get fair and just treatment under the law. They also seek to aid offenders in their recovery by potentially avoiding standard, punitive instruments of the criminal justice system. However, mental health courts do operate somewhat differently from other types of courts where criminal charges are handled.
A defendant must consent to their participation in a mental health court. If their condition precludes them from affirming their approval, a conservatorship can sometimes be sought. Some mental health conditions will result in erratic behavior, in which case legal representation with experience handling these matters can be essential to pursuing a favorable outcome.
Unlike a traditional trial, many cases heard in mental health court will not typically result in guilty versus not guilty pleas. Instead,your counsel will likely recommend a plea of “not guilty by insanity” or a negotiated deal that includes a pledge to seek treatment versus jail.
Our goal at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson LLP is to safeguard the rights of criminally accused individuals who suffer from mental health conditions. These cases can be extraordinarily complex and involve a strong understanding of the state’s laws and procedures for seeking mental health-related relief. Our Ventura mental health court lawyers have substantial experience handling these types of cases and will fight to get you the favorable outcome that will help lead to your recovery. We understand the stress these types of cases often spreads to the defendant’s family, which is why we offer access to our legal team 24/7.
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