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Mental Health Diversion

Mental Health Diversion

Experienced Oakland Criminal Defense Lawyer

California jails are filling with mentally ill people who have not been convicted of any crime. Many of them are so sick that they have been considered incompetent to stand trial. This crisis has become an increasingly bigger concern for the mental health community and the public at large. These people do not deserve to be detained indefinitely without care.

Although it would be ideal to send them to the hospital, where they would be able to receive medical treatment (until they are fit to be tried for their alleged crimes), these hospitals are completely filled. Instead, these individuals are kept in jails where they are neither being convicted of any crime nor free to go home. Jails are also becoming overcrowded, making this a major crisis.

What Is Mental Health Diversion?

Governor Brown signed California’s New Mental Health Diversion Statute into law in early 2018. This law establishes a discretionary pre-trial diversion procedure for any defendant who suffers from a mental disorder and has been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. To qualify, the mental disorder must have played a significant part in the commission of the charged offense.

Mental disorders identified in the DSMMD includes, but is not limited to:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

However, it does exclude antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia.

If the individual is identified with mental disorders and is approved by the court, the defendant may be referred to a program of mental health treatment utilizing existing inpatient or outpatient mental health resources.

How to Qualify for Mental Health Diversion Under California?

The defendant has to suffer from a qualified mental disorder, and it had to be a significant factor in the offense. Evidence of the defendant’s mental disorder needs to be provided, including a diagnosis by a qualified mental health expert. If the defendant does suffer from a qualifying disorder, the judge may rely on the testimony of the mental health.

Before approving a proposed treatment program, the court needs to consider the request of the defense, the request of the prosecution, the needs of the defendant, and the interests of the community. The treatment can last a maximum of two years, and it is the treatment program’s duty to provide the court with regular reports. In this case, defendants must waive their rights to a speedy trial.

Contact a Mental Health Diversion Attorney: (510) 907-6600

This new regulation can encourage individuals to seek treatment for mental disorders. It may help them become productive throughout their treatment. More importantly, it keeps defendants in need from being jailed for unreasonable lengths of time.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime and may qualify for Mental Health Diversion, contact our Oakland criminal defense attorney today for a case review. The Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed is the go-to firm for people in trouble, helping hundreds of people win dismissal, acquittal, or reduced charges.


We are here to help you through this tough process. Contact us today: (510) 907-6600!


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