Under new legislation effective January 1, 2019, you could be eligible for diversion under Penal Code Section 1001.36. This new law allows those who suffer from a mental condition, such as bipolar or schizophrenia, when that mental disorder played a significant role in the commission of the charged offense, to apply to have their cases diverted out of the criminal courts. The defendant would have to be able to respond to mental health treatment, not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety and agree to comply with the terms of the treatment plan. The diversion process could take up to two years to complete. However, at the successful end of the two year process the case would be dismissed without ever pleading guilty or going to trial first.
This landmark legislation recognizes the impact that mental illness has in the community and that crimes committed which are caused by the mentally ill should be treated differently than those committed by people with evil intent.
The diversion petition is so new that how the courts and prosecutors will accept it remains to be seen. But, it’s a hopeful sign that the criminal justice system is adding a little more humanity and justice into the mix. Cases such as these are difficult, complex, and require sophistication in their representation. I’ve been a Certified Specialist In Criminal Law since 1991 and handled many cases involving these mental health issues. Call me if you have a loved one who suffers from a mental health condition that has landed him or her in the criminal justice system. I can help.