Pre-Trial Diversion For Domestic Violence Defendants With A Qualifying Mental Health Condition
California law recognizes that mental health disorders can be a catalyst or contributing factor in domestic assaults. The legislature has carved out a pre-trial diversion as an alternative to jail and the other consequences of a domestic violence conviction. Qualifying candidates who complete the court’s program can avoid prosecution and keep the conviction off their criminal record.
Premier Domestic Violence Law Group is a criminal defense firm with a focus on representing those accused of domestic violence. Our attorneys have been successful in shielding clients from harsh punishment through mental health diversions, with the added benefit of getting them professional treatment they need.
Who Is Eligible For A Domestic Violence Mental Health Diversion?
This is not a “get-out-of-jail free card.” The criteria are strict and specific and if the person fails to adhere to the court’s terms they will be subject to immediate prosecution, incarceration and full penalties.
- The court has discretion to grant a mental health diversion for defendants who are diagnosed with certain disorders, including bipolar disorder, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
- The statute specifically excludes antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and pedophilia.
- The disorder must be proven to be a significant factor in the commission of the offense. In other words, the assault or terroristic threats stemmed directly from a mental health episode or known trigger.
- The court must be satisfied that the person is a good candidate for diversion: likely to respond to treatment and posing no unreasonable risk to public safety.
Our lawyers work behind the scenes to arrange for a qualified mental expert to assess our client and attest that they should be considered for pre-trial diversion on the basis of their mental health disorder. We assemble the medical documentation and testimony and present our case to the court, including cross-examination.
What Is A Pre-Trial Diversion?
A pre-trial diversion puts the normal prosecution proceedings on hold. In a mental health diversion, the person must enter and complete treatment and satisfy other conditions of the court. If they complete the diversion program, the person will not have to stand trial and the criminal charges are dismissed and the arrest records are sealed to all but restricted law enforcement access.
Explore Your Options And Defenses
ideally, we strive to get domestic violence charges dismissed outright and in many cases we are successful at securing dismissals. But for defendants who suffer from a mental disorder, diversion can mean the difference between cruel and inhumane incarceration and an opportunity to resume their life with appropriate support services.