Who Benefits from the Mental Health Diversion Program

Who Benefits from the Mental Health Diversion Program
Christopher J. McCann

California Senate Bill 215 (SB 215) allowed for the passage of Penal Code 1001.82 which allows some people with mental disorders to receive mental health treatment when charged with a criminal offense. This California program, which went into effect on June 27, 2018, is known as “mental health diversion.”

How Does the Mental Health Diversion Program Work?

The Mental Health Diversion Program allows for a “pretrial diversion” which allows a willing and agreeable defendant to participate in a mental health treatment program and postpose legal action in their case. If the pretrial diversion treatment program is successfully completed, then the charges against the defendant will be dismissed. Contacting an experienced defense attorney can help you understand your rights, and determine if this complex legal strategy is right for your case.

How to Qualify for the Mental Health Diversion Program

While the Mental Health Diversion Program is available in both misdemeanor and felony cases that are punishable in county jail, a court can only approve of this diversion if all of the following conditions have been met:

  • It has been proven that the defendant suffers from a mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • This mental health condition must be one other than pedophilia, antisocial personality disorder, or borderline personality disorder
  • The defendant’s mental disorder was a significant role in incident that resulted in the charged offense
  • A qualified mental health expert has stated that in their professional opinion, this defendant would respond well to mental health treatment
  • The defendant willingly consents to this pre-trial diversion, will willingly go to mental health treatment, and thus waives their Constitutional right to a speedy trial
  • The defendant willingly agrees to comply with the mental health treatment as a condition of their pre-trial diversion
  • The court is satisfied that public safety is not at risk if the defendant attends mental health treatment and that the defendant will not be dangerous to public safety

The mental health diversion period lasts a maximum of two years and can include either inpatient or outpatient treatment. The mental health provider will issue regular progress reports to the court, which are also sent to the prosecutor and defense counsel.

What Happens When Mental Health Treatment is Complete?

If the defendant completes the mental health treatment successfully, the court will dismiss the charges and the arrest will be sealed. The defendant cannot have engaged in any other new violations of law, and the defendant must have a mental health care plan in place to receive long-term treatment. If the mental health treatment was not completed successfully, the court will then restart the same criminal proceedings against the defendant.

Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney Today

If you have been arrested or charged with a criminal offense and believe that the Mental Health Diversion Program may apply in your case, Attorney Christopher J. McCann can help. Contact us at 888-360-4256 or online today and we will help you determine your eligibility.

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