How Does Mental Health Diversion Affect a Case?

Written by: Doug Ridley

Your Rights If Mental Health Diversion is Granted By a Court

Courts are given authority under Penal Code Section 1001.36 to grant pretrial diversion for individuals who commit certain crimes while suffering from a qualifying mental health disorder. If granted and successfully completed, Mental Health Diversion can result in a dismissal of the criminal charges.

At Ridley Defense, our legal team is experienced in helping clients with diagnosable mental health disorders understand their rights and seek court approval for a pretrial diversion program. Founding attorney and former Ventura County deputy district attorney, Douglas Ridley, helped to develop and establish Ventura County’s Mental Health Diversion Program. He and the entire team at Ridley Defense are passionate about helping clients suffering from mental health crises.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime while suffering from a mental health disorder, contact our office at  (805) 208-1866 to schedule a complimentary consultation. 

What Is Mental Health Diversion?

Mental Health Diversion is a form of pretrial diversion granted under Penal Code Section 1001.36. It allows California courts to grant diversion to a defendant who has committed a crime while suffering from a diagnosable mental health disorder. 

In order to be placed on Mental Health Diversion pursuant to Penal Code 1001.36, a person must be found both eligible and suitable.  Eligibility and suitability each have their own requirements.  

To be deemed eligible for Mental Health Diversion: 

  • The defendant must have been diagnosed with a mental disorder as identified in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (also known as the DSM). Certain mental health disorders such as antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia are excluded. 
  • The diagnosed mental health disorder was a “significant factor” in the commission of the crime.

To be deemed suitable for Mental Health Diversion: 

  • In the opinion of a qualified mental health expert, the symptoms of a defendant’s mental health disorder, which led to the offense, would respond to treatment. 
  • The defendant consents to diversion and agrees to waive their speedy trial rights. 
  • The defendant agrees to comply with the treatment plan for diversion. 
  • The defendant does not pose an “unreasonable risk” of danger to public safety if treated within the community. 

Unfortunately, if you have been charged with certain violent crimes such as murder, or any sex crimes, you will be deemed ineligible to participate in the Mental Health Diversion program. 

If you are unsure about whether you qualify for Mental Health Diversion, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney immediately. 

Do I Have to Complete the Diversion Program?

In order for the criminal charges to be dismissed you must successfully complete diversion. A diversion program can last up to two years depending on the crime committed.

If you do not satisfactorily complete the program, the criminal proceedings will be reinstated. Criminal proceedings may also be reinstated if you commit certain types of crime or criminal conduct while you are in diversion. 

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you have been charged with a crime in Southern California, it is strongly recommended that you speak with an attorney. Even if you do not qualify for mental health diversion, an attorney can help walk you through the legal process. They will work to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a criminal offense while suffering from a mental health disorder, you need to speak with an attorney today. Contact our office at (805) 208-1866 to schedule a complimentary consultation. Get the experienced representation you need now.

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