Mental health is something often stigmatized by others, with many assuming those who suffer are dangerous or erratic. However, this is far from the truth. Many Americans struggle with mental illness, but with the proper treatment and support, it can be managed. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to treatment, leaving their illnesses unchecked. As a result, crime can occur. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime but mental health plays a significant role in the act, it’s imperative to understand how this can impact the outcome of your trial. Additionally, you’ll learn how a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer can guide you through these challenging matters.
What Mental Health Issues Can Impact a Criminal Case?
It’s important to understand that not everyone with a mental illness is a criminal, just as not all criminals have mental illnesses. Unfortunately, there is a stigma that everyone who suffers from a mental illness is dangerous or erratic, which is far from the truth, as many who are diagnosed can manage their symptoms. However, there is overlap, and the presence of a mental illness in a defendant can impact the outcome of the case for the defendant. As such, it’s crucial to understand what forms of mental illnesses can be factors.
Generally, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, psychosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and phobias can all impact those diagnosed. Generally, it influences their mood, how they see the world, and their reactions to certain events.
How Are Mental Illnesses Used as a Defense?
It’s important to understand that there are several ways that a mental illness can impact the outcome of a case. In some instances, the defendant’s attorney may request a competency hearing in which a mental health professional evaluates whether or not the defendant understands and comprehends the circumstances, as this will indicate whether or not they are fit to stand trial. This is because the law has dictated that someone unable to understand the criminal justice system and the charges against them should not be tired by that same system. As such, the defendant would be transferred into the custody of California, which will likely place them in a hospital to receive treatment.
However, if the defendant is fit to stand trial, an attorney can use the presence of their mental illness to show that it impacted their judgment or understanding of the crime. For example, if someone with schizophrenia murders another because they have a steadfast belief doing so will prevent their death, which could be a delusion of their mental illness, then their attorney would argue that they are not guilty by reason of insanity. Essentially, this means the defendant could not understand the severity of the crime and could not tell right from wrong.
When you or a loved one are facing criminal charges as the result of a mental illness, it can be devastating. As such, it’s essential to connect with the experienced team at the Law Offices of Dale R. Gomes to explore your legal options. We will work tirelessly to fight for the best possible outcome for your circumstances. Connect with us today to learn more about how we can assist you.