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Mental Health Issues and the Criminal Justice System in Orange County, CA

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Are you worried that a loved one with mental health issues is being railroaded by the system? As a society our understanding and compassion for those who suffer mental health issues is still evolving. But when a loved one suffers under the weight of such an issue, this evolution can seem painfully slow. For instance, sometimes loved ones suffer from an affliction that robs them of their ability to understand the consequences of their actions, or to even understand what is going on around them at all. Unfortunately, the District Attorney’s office will not take this into account when piling charge after charge against your loved one. In fact, they’re likely to accuse them of “faking it” or “making it up.” No one else will watch out for your loved one’s interests during a criminal proceeding except for their attorney.

For instance, in California, Penal Code Section 1368 allows for an attorney to express a doubt to the court over whether or not their client is competent to take part in criminal proceedings. The Court must hold a hearing if such a declaration is made, and through this hearing your loved one may be given grace to receive treatment for their disease(s). While this does not erase the criminal charges against them, it does mean that they will be assured a stay at a hospital that can effectively nurse them back to health. Only when they’re able to understand the serious nature of the charges against them and provide help in their defense can they be subjected to the stresses of the criminal justice system