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Mental Health Defenses and How They Can Help Your Court Case

A person’s mental health can significantly impact a civil, domestic, or criminal case. If you’re involved in a case being handled by a mediator or court system, it’s very important that you understand how mental health affects your case. Developing this understanding can help you and your lawyer decide whether any mental health issues should be highlighted in the case to secure a favorable outcome.

Is Insanity the Only Form of Mental Health Defense? No, It’s Not.

When you think of mental health defenses, you probably think of someone ‘pleading insanity.’ And while this defense is often used in court cases, there are many other ways to leverage a person’s mental health issues as a form of defense against the charges.

Another common mental health defense comes in the form of a self-defense claim. When this type of claim is presented, it means the lawyer wants the jury to look at the case’s situation from the defendant’s point of view. This claim is often used when the defendant suffers from PTSD in which the lawyer will ask the jury to consider how the offender’s PTSD caused him or her to react in self-defense.

Learning disabilities can be used as mental health defenses in many types of cases. Take for example that you have a learning disability or some type of development issue that caused you to waive some of your rights during the arrest process. If it can be proven that your mental health disability influenced your waiving of rights negatively, then you may be able to have the entire case dismissed or appealed.

A person who pleads insanity is someone who has a disease or illness of the mind that makes it impossible to tell right from wrong in a situation, thus resulting in the committing of a crime. Some who pleads insanity can secure a final outcome for their cases without having to go to trial. In other instances, some who use this mental health defense still have to go to trial and face a jury.

Who Should Use Mental Health Defenses in a Court Case?

Anyone with a mental health issue that directly impacts a case should speak with an attorney about the various forms of mental health defenses that can be claimed. A mental health defense is often the determining factor for defendants regarding their ability to secure a more favorable outcome for a case, and as mentioned before, in some situations, the mental health defense can have the entire case dismissed.

Hire a Mental Health Defense Attorney!

Not all attorneys have experience in representing offenders with mental health disorders. And when it comes to using mental health defenses in court, it’s crucial to hire an attorney who has prior experience in winning cases using the defenses. If you need representation in the state of Arizona and you suffer from a mental health disorder, contact our law office now to see if a mental health defense can help your case.

Involuntary Commitment for Mental Health Treatment

Involuntary commitment for mental health treatment is often an extraordinarily confusing and frightening experience for patients and their families. Generally, this process starts when the patient has a break, a mental health episode that causes someone to be concerned enough for the patient that they contact police or mental health services. That call triggers a short period of commitment for evaluation. If, during the evaluation period, behavioral health experts determine that the person is a danger to themselves or others, they may file a petition for court ordered treatment.

When a petition for court ordered treatment is filed, a hearing will be scheduled where the Court will determine whether the person is a danger to themselves or others as a result of some disability, and whether that person is unable or unwilling to seek treatment voluntarily. If the Court determines that both are true, it may order the person to receive treatment. Under A.R.S. § 36-540 the Court has three options:

  1. Outpatient treatment: The Court may order the patient to receive treatment on an outpatient basis. The patient will be assigned a contact to ensure that they are following their treatment plan.
  2. Inpatient/outpatient: The Court may order the patient to receive treatment consisting of both inpatient and outpatient care.
  3. Inpatient treatment: The Court may order the patient confined to a behavioral health facility for treatment.

Court ordered treatment programs are in effect for one year, or until the patient is determined to be voluntary.

Often, when patients or their families are told that a doctor has filed a petition for court ordered treatment and are confronted with this statute, they come to the conclusion that the patient may end up confined to a behavioral health facility for a year. This is rarely the case. Arizona’s mental behavioral health services are designed to stabilize and release patients. Only in extreme cases, or in cases where the patient has a pattern of abandoning treatment, would a long period of commitment be ordered.

If you or a loved one are the subject of a petition for court ordered treatment, please contact our firm today. Our attorneys are familiar with this process and can advocate on your behalf.